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Quick Change Reviews: Bedknobs and Broomsticks (Tour)

It’s fair to say that Bedknobs and Broomsticks succeeds in casting a wonderfully wicked spell that has everybody singing it’s praises from the same hymn – sorry, spell – sheet.

This high-flying production, directed by Candice Edmunds and Jamie Harrison, soars with heart from the very first scene. In a war-ridden London, a comfortable night time story turns into a tragedy when a home is destroyed and a family ripped apart. Three orphans then find themselves in the care of apprentice witch Eglantine Price, in the countryside village of Pepperinge Eye.

Image by Johann Persson

Ms Price (Emma Thornett) is strong willed and courageous. Her delicious sense of humour and lightness is perfectly balanced against her well-intended plan to fight the faceless, looming shadows she foresees.

To pull it off, she and the children, take flight on a shining amber bed and track down the infamous Emelius Browne (Sam Lupton) to complete a much sought after spell.

This mission takes them back to London; where they enjoy a good-old fashioned romp around the inviting "Portobello Road" in search of oddities, before diving in to the fantasy land of Nopeepo and exploring "The Beautiful Briny" at the annual shimmering dance contest hosted marvellously by Norton, A Fish (Rob Madge).

Image by Johann Persson

These huge scenes see the full ensemble in full flourish. Gabriella Slade’s costumes range from sensible tweed, to patterned garments for our travelled sellers, to sequined glitz. All are donned with enthusiasm and charisma by an ensemble that add dimension to the elaborate sets by filling them with thoughtful light (Simon Wilkinson), quick choreography (Neil Bettles) and beautiful harmonies.

Image by Johann Persson

There are tricks and illusions a-plenty throughout the piece, including good old fashioned slight-of-hand and a broomstick determined to go awry. The glowing amber bedframe travels through windows only as small as the imagination, and the museum collection comes to life to fight the worthy cause – one we never forget brooding in the undercurrents of the piece. There are a few slip ups, but nothing that stops the show bobbing along.

Based on the adored novels by Mary Norton, it is the five central characters that truly steer both the flying bed, and the magic of the piece. Thornett was eloquent and endearing, her vocals making the 'Bedknob Spell' a sweet lullaby. Lupton’s Mr Browne was comedically joyous and enthusiastic. Together, their blooming relationship was charming and elevated only by the children who take highly technical roles in their stride.

The score, unmistakably that of the Sherman Brothers, has new additions from Neil Bartram. Charlie’s solo, "Negotiality" is a syrupy number delivered with Cockney attitude and confidence, spurred on by the unrivalled support of his siblings.

Bedknobs and Broomsticks is a celebration of hope and togetherness. Tickets will surely fly out the door.

Currently on tour at Curve, Leicester.

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