Beautiful Briny Show Bobs Into Sunderland With Style
Written by Robert Wilson Baker on 22nd April 2022
There is nothing better for an Easter Holiday, than a musical that the whole family can enjoy, so when you get the musical adaptation of a much loved Disney film land on your doorstep, you know you are in for a real treat. With that being said that’s exactly what we got from this brand new production of ‘Bedknobs and Broomsticks’.
Based on the 1971 film starring Angela Landsbury, the show starts with a stunning opening sequence which sets the scene of the show’s backdrop of World War 2. In turn, we meet siblings Charlie (Conor O’Hara), Carrie and Paul Rawlins – who have all been evacuated from London and paired with the unusual personality of Miss Eglantine Price (Dianne Pilkington). After a reluctant wish of staying with Miss Price, the Rawlins find out that she is a trainee Witch with a mission to fend off the ”looming shadows”.
With the help of spells from sorcerer Emilius Brown (Charles Brunton), Miss Price utilities the help of a bedknob to magic up a travelling bed in their hour of need as this unlikely family travels to places far and wide in search of things to help them on their quest.
Bedknobs and Broomsticks is truly a magical ensemble piece that perfectly encapsulates and expands on the heart of the original movie. Dianne Pilkington leads this ensemble cast with 1st class flare and whit as Eglantine Price weaving the perfect blend of comic timing, perfectly demonstrated in the flying broom sequence, and heart in the breathtaking number ’The Age Of Not Believing’.
Charles Brunton and Conor O’Hara equally exude great skill in their respective performances – with Brunton’s zany Emilius Browne oozing charm and physicality, contrasting well with the complexly troubled Charlie, which O’Hara played with such depth and relatable warmth.
The cast as a whole – is worth mentioning as the skill of their ensemble craft is exceptional. From setting the scenes using physical theatre styled choreography to puppeteering, magic and layering atmospheric harmonies, they provide much need colour to this already complex and clever show. Special mentions to Rob Madge’s loveable Norton the Fish, Emma Thornett’s manic Angela the Bird and Durham lad Sam Lupton, whole perfectly multi-roles the magical rabbits and a forgetful seller in Portobello Road.
Directors Candice Edmunds and Jamie Harrison, who also designed the show’s set and illusions, have created this life like world which draws every audience member into believing that they are a child again whilst also hitting us with the harsh realities of the time period. Coupled with Neil Bettles’ intricate choreography, Gabriella Slade’s spell-bounding costumes and Simon Wilkinson’s beautiful lighting design, the show creates a full package of new levels not seen on stage before.
With the original Sherman Brother songs and additional numbers added by Neil Bartram, this show perfectly encapsulates the magic of humanity at its finest and the rawness of theatre at the highest level.
Bedknobs and Broomsticks runs at the Sunderland Empire until the 24 April, 2022. Tickets are available here.