Bedknobs and Broomsticks at the Orchard Theatre

Bedknobs and Broomsticks has flown into Dartford and it has cast a spell of delightful magic over the Orchard Theatre. I should probably start this review with a confession….I have not seen the film! I therefore went into this show not knowing what to expect but I left feeling I had experienced the magic of theatre!

Photo: Johan Persson

If, like me, you have not seen the film then let me tell you a bit about Bedknobs and Broomsticks. It is set during Word War 2 and the Rawlins children, Charlie, Carrie and Paul have been evacuated from London. Their parents had both died in a bombing and they are thrust upon Miss Price. We soon discover that Miss Price is an apprentice Witch who is determined to help with the war effort in a unique way. Through Miss Price’s spells we encounter a flying bed, a trip under the sea and unexpected romances. The story is whimsical but with an underlying message of how important friendship and the support of others can be.

The most magical thing about the show is how it is staged. It ticks all of the boxes you want from this show from the flying bed and of course Miss Price on her flying broomstick to scene changes so intricately choreographed they themselves look like magic. On top of this there is also puppetry. The puppetry ranges from the fish under the sea competing in the dance competition to a larger bear fishing to present his catch to the King. Each different type of puppet is unique and so effective, helping the audience immerse themselves in this world of magic Bedknobs and Broomsticks has crated even further.

The cast fitted perfectly into this magical world. Dianne Pilkingon was Eglantine Price and her Miss Price not only melted the heart s of the children but also the audience. When she told the audience that in order for a spell to work you must truly believe, she had the whole auditorium believing with her. Pilkington’s voice is sublime and it suited the numbers Miss Price deliver’s wonderfully. Charles Bruton was Emelius Brown and he encompassed Emelius’ eccentricity brilliantly. Brunton and Pilkington on stage together for this pairing was truly wonderful.

The children were played by Conor O’Hara and on the the night I saw it Poppy Houghton and Dexter Barry. O’Hara is a recent graduate making his professional debut and Houghton and Barry have an incredible amount of talent that far exceeds their young years, especially as they never really leave the stage.

The show combines some of the films classic songs such as Potebello Road and of course The Beautiful Briney but new songs written by Neil Bartram and an updated book helps bring the stage version to life.

Bedknobs and Broomsticks is wonderfully magical and a perfect show for a family trip to the theatre. As we were leaving the theatre the room was full of chatter from younger audience members trying to work out how the special effects had been achieved. Whilst the show is on the longer side for a family show it has more than enough going on to keep younger minds (and older) enthralled throughout. I just wish Miss Price had taught us the spell for going back in time as I would happily cast a spell and go to watch this all over again.

Bedknobs and Broomsticks is on at the Orchard theatre until Sunday 28th November and it then continues its tour. To find out more about the how you can visit their website.

If you like this review you might also like my review of Mary Poppins, Matilda and Les Miserables.

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