Reviewed: Bedknobs and Broomsticks delights packed house at Curve

The Disney classic comes to Leicester's Curve.

Magic and miraculous stage tricks in The Curve's Bedknobs and Broomsticks

I must be one of the only people of my age and up who isn’t entirely familiar with The Disney Classic Bedknobs and Broomsticks.


Not one for musicals, yet absolutely one for a trip to the theatre with my two children in tow, I sat down in a packed house at Curve Theatre in Leicester with the programme in one hand – and a chocolate treat in the other.


The story starts with three orphaned children, the ‘Rawlins’, who we quickly discover have after been evacuated from wartime London to live with Eglantine Price.


We accompany them on a magical adventure after discovering their new home’s owner is not quite what she seems – especially after seeing her swoop across the full moon on a broom.

Incredible set design in Disney's Bedknobs and Broomsticks

The set and lighting, puppetry and magic trick mastering was mesmerising from the very start with gasps of “how-did-they-do-that’s-mum?” from my two children to which I could only reply aghast, “I have no idea!"


All our imaginations were a-light with illusions and puppetry skills like nothing I have seen on stage before.


Always a fan of the costume department, I can’t not mention how detailed and skilled the wardrobe was – they really brought scenes such as The Briny Ballroom to life.


Diane Pilkington’s depiction of Eglantine Price is a notable standout. She looks the part in costumes designed by designer Gabriella Slade for a start, all gorgeous vibrant colour palettes and vintage hair.


Her voice, which manages to be nostalgic in a kind-of-perfect-old-time-Disney way, is stunning and she takes us through all the classics such as ‘The Beautiful Briny’ and ‘The Age of not Believing’ alongside trickster Emelius Browne played by Charles Brunton with moving ease and elegance.

Diane Pilkington in Bedknobs and Broomsticks

Directed by Harrison and Candice Edmunds, with a book by Brian Hill and additional music and lyrics by Neil Bartram, the story line is of course punctuated with epic songs throughout (I am aware that’s generally how musicals work).


And, whilst it’s a personal choice - and probably unpopular one - a few of the newer additions could have been omitted in exploring the characters a little more. In particular the children’s back story, but I love a backstory me more than most and most love it sung so I entirely understand.


Ultimately, what shines through is a beautiful story of believing, healing grief, adopting a strong heart and leaving it wide open for love and possibility once again.


Bedknobs and Broomsticks has ended at The Curve but you can catch the show across the UK until May 2022.

 

Words by Emily Miller

Emily is a Senior Journalist for Niche Magazine with over a decade of journalism experience. She enjoys going to gigs, visiting galleries and walking in all weathers.