Disney’s Bedknobs and Broomsticks has flown into the Bristol Hippodrome this week, and I can’t urge you enough to go and see it. Based on the classic Disney movie of the same name, Bedknobs and Broomsticks follows three orphan evacuees, Charlie, Carrie and Paul, who are taken in by trainee witch, Miss Eglantine Price. What follows is a truly magical adventure involving a flying bed, half a lost spell book, an underwater ball and a trip to the land of Nopeepo. No spoilers here, so I won’t tell you what unfolds but suffice to say the show was much more emotive than I thought it would be, and left me wiping away tears at the end.
Without doubt, Bedknobs and Broomsticks is one of the best shows the Hippodrome has ever hosted. The calibre of this production is second to none. There is not a single flat moment and I genuinely felt honoured to watch last night. The entire cast is flawless, led expertly by Dianne Pilkington as Miss Price. She was perfection but really, they all were. The two younger children were sweet and endearing, while Conor O’Hara as the elder brother Charlie, did a great job at portraying a vulnerable, terrified 13-year-old who was trying to care for his siblings…. Even if he did have to spend a lot of the show bending his knees to so he didn’t tower over other adult actors. I actually thought his height would distract me, but such was the performance from everyone on stage that I forgot all about that and just allowed the story to pull me in.
Many things enthralled me about this production, but the staging of it all is simply magnificent. It’s definitely only achieved by some kind of wizardry, I am sure. How a touring production manages to make a bed fly, multiple times on stage, with not so much as a wire or hydraulic lift in sight, is baffling, and the set designers and illusion consultants must be applauded. The perfect execution of what must be a monumental task added so much to the show. The same must be said for costume, hair and makeup and definitely the puppetry. It’s not often I find myself enthralled by a talking bear so much that I forget there’s two actors moving him. A special mention to the orchestra as well, who played beautifully throughout and swept us all away.
Touring productions in general have really upped their game in the last few years, and it’s not an understatement to say Bedknobs and Broomsticks is equally as good as anything you’d see in the west end. This show is an absolute triumph, a magical joy from start to finish, and I wish them every success with the remainder of the tour.