Bedknobs and Broomsticks
Enter a world of magic and fantasy as Disney’s classic movie Bedknobs and Broomsticks makes its world premiere as an exciting new musical.
With the original songs by the legendary Sherman Brothers (Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang), including Portobello Road, The Age Of Not Believing, The Beautiful Briny and new music and lyrics by Neil Bartram and book by Brian Hill, Bedknobs and Broomsticks will be brought to life by award-winning theatre-makers Candice Edmunds and Jamie Harrison.
When the three orphaned Rawlins children are reluctantly 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.
It’s time to start believing.
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Bedknobs and Broomsticks ON TOUR
Our review on Bedknobs and Broomsticks
Disney's Bedknobs and Broomsticks - The Lowry, Salford - Wednesday 16th March 2022 by Karen Ryder
I was lucky enough to see Bedknobs and Broomsticks when it visited Manchester not so long ago, so why am I going back again so soon? Because it’s just that good! No flying bed or evil lions could keep me away if they tried! Bedknobs and Broomsticks truly is a show for the whole family. It transcends age and allows you to revel in the sheer joy, hope and magic that Disney create. Allow your inner child to lead you with the characters on their journey, from the reality of living in their war-torn country, to the impossible land of Nopeepo, where you can swim with and talk to the animals under water, duel with a Lion, and dance with a watery world of ballroom champions! Believe in the impossible, hold your family tight, and embrace the message of love, hope and family.
Charlie, Carrie and Paul have been evacuated to the country and are not happy about it. They are missing their parents who were tragically caught up in the action, missing their friends and missing the bright lights of the city. How can the country possibly compare to all they know and love? But things are never as they seem, and the three children are about to learn a very important lesson that you should never judge a book by its cover. Upon meeting their Guardian Miss Price, the children think she is dull and gloomy. Little do they know that Miss Price has more tricks up her sleeve than they ever dreamed possible. When they see her flying through the night, they begin on a journey that will change the way in which they think, feel and believe forever. The children take on the brave task of helping Miss Price fight the ever ascending army, and with a little bit of magic on their side, they set off to find the missing pages of the spell book to make the impossible, well – possible! Some of the children find it easier than others to believe unflinchingly, whilst others immediately accept that Miss Price is a witch, they are flying to magical lands on a bed, and Mr. Browne who they thought was Miss Prices magic teacher actually needs to be taught a thing or two from Miss Price herself! But they soon learn that they all have unique and impressive skills, that when combined, can achieve anything!
The musical stage show is based on Disney’s 1971 film. It was a huge success in its day, and once again included their ground-breaking thrill of crossing live action with animation. Starring Angela Lansbury and David Tomlinson, and songs penned by the famous Sherman brothers, it won five academy awards and wowed audiences for many years to come. The stage musical includes the wonderful songs by The Sherman Brothers and includes some brilliant new ones by Neil Bartram, who has done an incredible job of making them blend beautifully so there is no obvious join between composers.
How to explain the impact of this show? To quote Tinkerbell “All you need is faith and trust and a little bit of pixie dust.” Disney often leaves me lost for words, because they blow your mind, they leave you awestruck and they make you alive with feelings. Watching Bedknobs and Broomsticks absorbs your power of speech as you are left with part finished sentences and thoughts all blazing into one enchanting aura. “What the?……did you see?…….this is……..how did they?……is that?………I can’t even…..”. It is the type of show that builds an overwhelming bubble of energy inside you and leaves you crying tears of wonderment and happiness because you simply have no other way to express what you are feeling.
The show opens to a stylised and heart wrenching flee from London as we watch it being bombed, with the set literally being blown apart. Moving scenery, lights, and music all combine to unleash the danger facing the children. Their little faces are etched with fear, worry and loss as they make their way through the rubble to the train station and are torn apart from their parents, left scared and alone in the world. It was a poignant opening more than ever right now and broke my heart.
The songs are glorious. A Step In The Right Direction is the first time we get to indulge in Miss Price’s magic and it is fantastic! For a few seconds the inquisitive and rational adult in me wanted to know how they achieved it but I soon escaped these confines to embrace the joy and wonder the illusions delivered. I just felt so content to be surrounded by the happiness that Disney was bringing to all ages in the audience. The Age Of Disbelieving is a gentle and lulling song which pulls on the heart strings. For anyone who has visited Disney world, it also has a ring of “There’s A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” about it from The Carousel Of progress, which gave me even more Disney vibes.
Last time I saw the show, Portobello Road was one of my favourite pieces for it was classic ensemble musical theatre at it’s best. I have to say, my memory (for once) has done me justice, for it was every bit as theatrical as I remembered it. There is so much going on that I noticed details and nuance this time that escaped me previously, such as the scenery continually building up and over lapping at the back of the stage, performers climbing up onto the moving stalls, and the intricacy of the timing from the ensemble. One step in the wrong direction or a beat out of time could have brought the whole thing crashing down, so their ability to know each and every nuance around them was impressive to say the least.
I was so happy to revisit Nopeepo Lagoon (not No Poo poo). My childhood is forever entwined with the Bedknobs and Broomsticks film, and Nopeepo is its crowning glory. Last time I saw the show, I wondered how on earth they were going to recreate animation V live action on stage, whilst maintaining the juxtaposed elements between them, allowing the two worlds to combine. This time, I was beside myself with anticipation to see if what I remembered actually happened! I can’t express enough how magical the whole thing is, and when we are finally treated to the infamous Bobbin’ Along song, I was grinning from ear to ear.
Diane Pilkington (Young Frankenstein, Mamma Mia, 39 Steps, Wicked) is the lucky actress stepping into Angela Lansbury’s shoes to play Miss Price. I loved her the first time I her and I still loved her tonight. Pilkington is multi-faceted in the role, and a character to be reckoned with. She is strong, commanding, engaging, quirky, funny and tender. She is a vocal genius, not just with her incredible singing voice, but her understanding and knowledge of how to use her voice to create comical subtleties such as slides, volumes, pitches and play around with vowel sounds to instil humour wherever she wants.
Charles Brunton (Oliver, Scrooge, Beauty & The Beast, Chess) plays Mr. Browne (and don’t forget the E!). Last time I saw the show, it drove me mad who he reminded me of and tonight it came to me. It is like watching old footage of Bruce Forsythe back in the day when he was master of absolutely everything. He can do it all, sing, dance, comedy, magic, and is a true all round entertainer. He is outstanding in Emelius The Great and his energy throughout is not only impressive – it should be impossible! But this is a show all about believing in the impossible so I really should slap my own wrists.
Conor O’ Hara (debut professional performance) plays Charlie and has grown into this part fantastically. He plays the eldest child, but is not a child in real life, and has been cast to perfection for he emulates that inbetween world of child and adult. As an actor he is so accessible that you can’t help but love him. He is charming, talented and one to watch for the future. What a debut!
Paul was played by Aidan Oli and Carrie by Evie Lightman. These children are so talented and professional, but as Bedknobs and Broomsticks teaches us, never under estimate the ability of a child, never forget their possibilities and never write them off as just children.
The ensemble cast epitomises the Disney Dream. They are magical, believable, engaging, enticing, and I’m sure their hard work is making everyone’s dreams come true because they, without a shadow of a doubt, complete the show. They not only act as a chorus in the showbiz sense, but in the original sense too and provide some spine-tingling moments when they collaborate to prepare us for the magic that is about to take place. They are soothing dream whisperers who provide the core of the show.
In a production where scenery appears from nowhere, illusions are around every corner and puppetry is so realistic and immersive that even the fish manage to have facial expressions and reactions, it is impossible to leave without a smile on your face and hope in your heart. So, as Charlie would say, “Let’s look at the facts.” The fact is, everyone should be Bobbin’ Along to Bedknobs and Broomsticks for it is a true Disney Delight that will be wowing audiences for many years to come. Treat yourself to the purest form of escapism and be whisked away to a fantastical fantasy world where dreams really can come true.
We score Bedknobs and Broomsticks - 10/10
Our review on Bedknobs and Broomsticks
Disney's Bedknobs and Broomsticks - Palace Theatre, Manchester - Wednesday 20th October 2021 by Karen Ryder
I can’t even begin to express how excited I was about tonight’s show! The choice of my guest was obvious – my mum! Why? Because this was my go-to childhood film when I was poorly as it never failed to cheer me up and my mum would always snuggle up with me. This was the film that made me splash around a little too enthusiastically at bathtime singing “Bobbin’ along,” and this was the film that fed my hungry imagination, so I would spend endless hours sticking tennis balls on cardboard tubes and propping them up at the end of my bed to create my bedknobs. Once complete, my mum would be summoned and she would play Miss Price whilst I was Carrie, and my teddy bears played Charlie and Paul. This film holds a lot of happy and content nostalgia for me, and I am also in big need of a Disney fix because a little thing called covid meant I missed out on my holiday to Disney World. So to say I was excited is possibly an understatement of gigantic proportions!
The big question then is, was I let down? As if!!! This is Disney people! They know how to do epic. They know how to do illusion and they know how to create magic in all of us, regardless of age.
Bedknobs and Broomsticks is a story about magic, imagination, believing in the impossible, self-belief and family. We follow Charlie, Carrie and Paul on their journey from war torn London to the seemingly safe and dull countryside. However, with a little Step In The Right Direction and Negotiality, we soon learn that the children are in for a stay they will never forget. Upon meeting their new Guardian Miss Price, it doesn’t take long for them to discover she is actually a witch (in training) but a witch with an important plan. When part of her spell is missing, she takes the children back to London in order to find her teacher Mr. Browne in the misguided hope that he can help. It turns out Mr. Browne is no magic teacher but a mere street entertainer and he ends up learning a thing or two from Miss Price instead. Still, between them all they discover that they make quite the team. They go to Mr. Browne’s to find the missing spell book, but half the book is missing! This sets their journey in motion to The Land Of Nopeepo to obtain a necklace worn by their King – who just happens to be a lion! This necklace contains the missing magic words to complete Miss Prices magic and save England from defeat in the war. We meet numerous characters and challenges along the way, including talking fish, flying clothes, a dance competition and many many rabbits! And if all that isn’t enough – they all travel onboard a flying bed! And yes! It really does fly!
Disney create literal and utter magic on stage. The opening sequence of the children’s home being bombed and their subsequent journey is fantastically achieved. Moving scenery, lights, incredible music and impeccable acting from the children immediately set the level of this show with Disney Imagineering at its best. The opening song from the children instantly secures their believability, professionalism and downright utter talent. A Step In The Right Direction sprinkles our first glimpse of magic and illusion with humour, gasps and wide eyed children and adults in equal delight. As if this isn’t enough, the bed takes flight. I got Disney fairy dust sprinkled all over me and shivered from head to toe with spine tingling awe. Every goose got bumped and every hair stood on end. I was in my happy place for sure.
Portobello Road was the best kind of cast ensemble work you could wish to see. There was so much going on, you could watch it time and time again and still find something new I’m sure. It was a real crowd pleaser too. And then we reached Nopeepo Lagoon. I have been waiting my entire life to visit here and a small part of me worried how on earth they were going to recreate animation V live action on stage and keep that special conflicting brilliance that allowed us to be Bobbin’ along. I was immediately kicking myself for ever daring to show concern. As if! I should have known better, for this is Disney! I’m not actually going to say how they achieve it because I don’t want to take away the joy of discovering some magic for yourself.
I’ve just realised I’m assuming everyone knows that this stage show is based on Disney’s 1971 musical film of the same name, where they crossed over live action with animation, just like they did in Mary Poppins. Well if you didn’t know, you do now. Apologies, I get carried away sometimes and forget that people can’t see into the swirling glitter pool that is my mind. The original film had songs penned by the famous Sherman Brothers, which thankfully cross over into the stage production, but we are also treated to additional songs, music and lyrics by Neil Bartram which blend as wonderfully as the creation of new words in the play when the children mix words together to create new ones (or if you want to get fancy –create Portmanteau’s).
The role of Miss Price was played by Angela Lansbury in the film, but today was brought to life beautifully by Dianne Pilkington (Young Frankenstein, Mamma Mia, 39 Steps, Wicked). I’m still trying to get over how good she was. Who on earth puts Angela Lansbury in her place? Dianne Pilkington – that’s who! She is quirky, homely, engaging, genteel and fierce with the singing voice of an angel and an acting voice that is able to use subtle slides and pitches to create instant humour and likeability.
Charles Brunton plays Mr. Browne (with an E). Charles has played against some big names such as Jonathan Price in Oliver, and Tommy Steele in Scrooge. Credits also include Beauty And The Beast, Chess, Love Never Dies, and Matilda. Charles Brunton’s big opening number Emelius The Great is outstanding. I have no idea how he performed it without collapsing tonight let alone eight shows a week! He sings, dances, performs magic and interacts with an entire ensemble cast and makes it look effortless. This energy is kept up throughout the show, dropped only when we see a more sensitive side to his character. I definitely want some of what he is on please!
Conor O’ Hara (debut professional performance) plays Charlie and he has a natural presence about him. He is excellent at providing the cross over between the adults and the children. He fits into both worlds with conviction and you somehow feel you know him. He is simply lovely to watch. I’m not 100% sure which two wonderful young actors played Carrie and Paul as there is obviously a small group of children that rotate but they were incredible and I can only imagine how much their family and friends must be beaming with pride.
The ensemble cast are flawless and whilst this production has leads in the form of Miss Price, Mr. Browne and the three children, the show would literally fall to pieces without the ensemble. They are the life blood of this show, providing everything from traditional ensemble work such as singing, acting, dancing, to playing multiple roles which include choir, sound effects, stage hands, magicians assistants and creators of magic and illusion.
Bedknobs and Broomsticks is magnificently magical, creating memories to hold on to. Well done Disney! What a wonderful gift. To quote the shows on lyrics, “There’s pure inspiration in every creation.” You simply must zoom to this land of make believe where dreams really can come true.
WE SCORE DISNEY'S BEDKNOBS AND BROOMSTICKS - 10/10
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