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Review Bedknobs and Broomsticks The Magical Musical Manchester Place Theatre

Bedknobs and Broomsticks, photo Johan Persson.jpg
21 Oct 2021

Disney’s Bedknobs and Broomsticks The Magical Musical has flown into the Palace Theatre Manchester. Discover what we thought here. 

Disney’s Bedknobs and Broomsticks was one of my favourite childhood films and ever since I heard about the adapted ‘magical musical’ I couldn’t wait to see it. I was therefore very excited when invited along to the press night and took my nine-year-old daughter to share in my childhood dreams. 

For those not familiar with the film (you’ve been missing out by the way) it was based on 1940’s books The Magic Bedknobs and Bonfire and Broomsticks. It was developed under Walt Disney himself and the original song were written by the Sherman Brothers who also wrote the score for Mary Poppins and many other Disney hits. 

The story follows three children evacuated to the countryside from London during the blitz. They end up in the care of Miss Eglantine Price an apprentice witch who, with the help of a correspondence witchcraft school, hopes to use her spells to help with the British war effort. 

The film fans should be aware that the new musical adaptation features additional songs and changes to the original story and a bit of an alternative ending. However, you will not come away any less a fan. 

The show opens in a dramatic way as the children’s world is literally torn apart as a bomb hits their home and are whisked away to the countryside. My daughter was instantly enthralled and I knew I would not be leaving disappointed. 

Dianne Pilkington plays Miss Price, and although adds a bit more glamour and sass than the film version she nails the role on it’s head. Charles Brunton also makes a great Emelius Brown, Miss Price’s so-called professor. He has the glint and charm required of the magical conman whilst winning the heart of the audience as the story progresses. 

Dianne Pilkington in Bedknobs and Broomsticks photo Johan Persson                                                                                           Photo credit Johan Persson

Conor O’Hara plays the oldest Rawlins children, Evie Lightman played the strong-willed Carrie and Jasper Hawes play the youngest Paul on the night we attended. All three stepped up to the roles proving not only that they could act and sing but had perfect comedy timing as they had the audience laughing out loud. 

Bedknobs and Broomsticks photo Johan Persson 3Photo credit Johan Persson

In a story set around magic, the sets and special effects play an important role. With the film ahead of it’s time, incorporating cartoon and live-action, I had presumed we would be in for an evening of CGI. It was refreshing to see that I was wrong. Instead, the show goes back to traditional theatre staging.  

The incredibly quick scene changes are done by the ensemble, clouds are carried across the stage wheels are moved by hand. It is all extremely charming and fits well in a show set in the 1940’s. This doesn’t mean it isn’t spectacular. The Portabella Road scene featured amazing scenery and costumes and was truly breathtaking. 

The Bedknobs and Broomsticks company photo Johan PerssonPhoto credit Johan Persson

The scene under the sea was greeted with gasps from the audience and the animal characters are cleverly portrayed ( I won’t say anymore as not to spoil the effect). It is however the magical spells that wowed.  Miss Price’s broomstick jumps and dances before heading up into the air with her on board, the characters are turned into rabbitts and back again in a hilarious manner and the bed takes off and flies around the stage. 

Bedknobs and Broomsticks photo Johan Persson 2Photo credit Johan Persson 

Dianne Pilkington in Bedknobs and Broomsticks photo Johan Persson 2Photo credit Johan Persson

With Halloween and half-term looming, Bedknobs and Broomsticks will make the perfect family treat and it is definitely one to see.

For more information and to book tickets to see Bedknobs and Broomsticks the Magical Musical in Manchester 

Photo credit Johan Persson

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