Enter a world of magic and fantasy with Disney’s classic movie Bedknobs and Broomsticks. This classic film has been brought to life on the stage for the very first time and is in Milton Keynes Theatre right now. With the original songs by the legendary Sherman Brothers, who also wrote Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang you are guaranteed a trip like no other. All you have to do is turn that knob at the end of your bed…
To be honest it has been decades since I have seen the film, so coming to the show, I felt like I was watching it for the first time which gave it another level of magic. When the three orphaned children are evacuated from wartime London to live with the mysterious Eglantine Price, they have no idea what adventures lie ahead. Upon discovering Eglantine to be a trainee witch, they join forces to search for a secret spell that will defeat the enemy once and for all. Armed with an enchanted bedknob, a bewitched broomstick and a magical flying bed, they encounter surprising new friendships on their journey from Portobello Road to the depths of the beautiful briny sea.
The start of the show tells the backstory of the children with no talking or singing at all. It is very dramatic as we glimpse their happy home life before the bomb hits. Portobello Road is a superb number and a fantastically choreographed piece which made me want to go shopping there myself. I loved the costumes in this piece and would happily wear most of them – well I am a bit boho myself.
Bedknobs is clearly the distant cousin of Chitty and Mary Poppins. During one number I found myself singing a spoonful of sugar. Miss Price has more than a similarity to Mary Poppins but these things are not a negative; they actually endear us to Miss Price and the show instead. The puppets are phenomenal and, on our journey, we get to meet a rabbit (when Miss Price uses her signature spell on Charlie), a bear who likes fishing, a bow-tie wearing fish compare and of course, the king of Nopeepo, a scary lion. I also need to mention the sets and those who are moving them around. This show has so much momentum and the sets move with it. The sets in this show are probably the best I have ever seen.
Dianne Pilkington plays Miss Price and was … can I say practically perfect? She is so watchable that I would go and see her in anything she stars in. What a fabulous flawless performance. Dianne holds your attention in every scene. She plays Miss Price in a very approachable way and warm us to her. Charles Brunton plays Emelius Browne. Charles was really magical and I found myself amazed by his tricks and wanted him to find his happy ending. Charles gives a spellbinding performance.
The actors playing the children are so professional and committed to their roles that you forget they are just children. Conor O’Hara plays Charlie who is rather big for 13 but he taught me a new word – Negotiality. I am going to use this in my daily life. In tonight’s performance Carrie was played by Poppy Houghton who is going to be a star and little Paul was played by Dexter Barry who is actually one of the most important people in the show as he is the owner of the bedknob! I also want to mention Mrs Holiday who is played by Jacqui Du Bois. Jacqui gives her supporting role everything and I would have liked a spin off with her starring in it. After all she is the postmistress, museum curator and organises the evacuated children. I bet she has a few stories to tell.
This is the perfect show for children and those who are young at heart. There is nothing quite like it so it’s time to start believing! Aren't we due a bit of magic in our lives?
This magical musical starts its UK Tour in Milton Keynes and is there until 19 September.