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BrumHour saw Bedknobs and Broomsticks at the invite of The Alexandra.
By Dave Massey twitter.com/BrumHour
Review: Bedknobs and Broomsticks at The Alexandra
Music and lyrics by Robert B. Sherman, Richard M. Sherman, Neil Bartram. Book by Brian Hill. Directors Candice Edmunds and Jamie Harrison
It’s World War Two; Charlie (Conor O’Hara) along with his sister Carrie* and Paul* are war orphans from London who get sent to a small village in the countryside, they find themselves living with Miss Price (Dianne Pilkington) who has a huge secret – she is an apprentice witch. This is something the children discover very quickly.
Miss Price has been writing to Emelius Browne (Charles Brunton) for spells with her witchcraft after the children confront her about her secret. Miss Price discovers Mr Browne has stopped his business and she with the children set off to find him. Using magic, of course.
There was a lot of excitement for this near sold-out production as we arrived at the theatre for press night. The film came out FIFTY years ago in 1971 and some delays over the past few years, mean this even more musical production is currently on its first ever tour. I’ve not seen the film in twenty years and but on the sole basis that I really enjoyed that as a child I wanted to go and see this. The audience welcomed the production with a huge round of applause even before it began!
The set is very deconstructed right from the opening overture which sees the only three-wall room destroyed almost instantly, the pillars on the side throughout are stark reminders of the tough times during the first half of the 1940s. Without his parents around Charlie hides his grief by being strong for his younger siblings.
There are plenty of songs from film to enjoy plus some brand new ones written for this stage version. I loved Portobello Road, The Age of Not Believing and Substitutiary Locomotion.
Music and magic is the order of the day with Bedknobs and the on stage magic tricks worked really well, How did the bed fly? How did people get turned into animals? How did the magic broom work? Light and shadow play a huge part here and there are many times where the darkness at the rear of the stage provides space for the tricks to take place.
Filled with a very talented cast and a great supporting chorus who appear when magic is taking place, this was a fantastically fun family night out. I’d expect it to be suitable for children over six years old as there are some slightly scary moments and I did hear some young people crying at these. The first half lasted for nearly 75 minutes and in total, the production was two hours and forty minutes including a twenty minute break.
A brilliant retelling of Bedknobs and Broomsticks, this production is at The Alexandra until Sunday 14th November. Tickets at The Alexandra are nearly sold out. Book here: atgtickets.com/shows/bedknobs-and-broomsticks/the-alexandra-theatre-birmingham
*Carrie is played by Izabella Bucknell, Sapphire Hagon, Poppy Houghton or Evie Lightman.
*Paul is played by Dexter Barry, Haydn Court, Jasper Hawes or Aidan Oti.