Bedknobs and Broomsticks, the classic 1971 Disney film by Robert Stevenson, has gained a loyal following with fans that span generations.
in this stage version at The Lowry, just like in the original movie, three children, an amateur magician and a witch team up to save England from the war.
However, this stage adaptation really is its own creation, featuring new songs and a surprisingly emotionally deeper undertone to the story.
In this version, the children are orphans, which gives them an added character background which complements the storyline.
The show opens with a look at the children inside their London home, before it is pulled apart by the bombs from the air raid which hit the building.
With no dialogue, you are quickly immersed into the impressive set design and illusions by Jamie Harrison.
The children begin their journey and head on their way out of London, whilst the set quickly transitions across various settings.
Upon first meeting Eglantine Price, it is clear Dianne Pilkington was perfectly cast for the role.
Her comedic timing throughout the show is brilliant, which is quickly seen when the apprentice witch attempts to fly on her broom for the first time.
There are of lot of props in this show which are used for various characters. In the scene where Charlie, Carrie and Paul gaze out the window in amazement at Miss Price, who is flying across the town on a broomstick, a miniature puppet is used, which is rather funny and surprisingly doesn’t come across as gimmicky.
Charles Brunton carries the quirky characteristics and humour of Emelius Browne and performs his opener, Emelius The Great, perfectly.
Brunton’s chemistry with Miss Price and the children is clear to see, which made each of their many scenes together a joy to watch.
The show’s new numbers by Neil Bartram complement that of the Sherman brothers’ originals well, and many of the newer songs are actually catchy.
Conor O’Hara conveys the likeable charm of Charlie, whilst effectively displaying the vulnerability of the older brother who takes it upon himself to look after his younger siblings after a terrible loss.
Of course, scenes where the characters travel via the famous magical bed are also done really well, demonstrating once again how well-done Jamie Harrison’s set design is in the show.
Arriving in the land of Nopeepo, you are struck by the impressive design of the animals, which are performed by puppets, rather than people in suits, which works very well.
Brian Hill’s book is skilfully directed by Candice Edmunds, who makes this stage adaptation its own revision of the classic story.
The show serves as a great outing for all the family, with magic onstage that is just as fun to watch as the movie.
Bedknobs and Broomsticks is at The Lowry until Saturday 19th March. Tickets are available here.