Award-winning theatre-makers Candice Edmunds and Jamie Harrison have cast a spell, transforming a childhood classic into a new must-see musical.
Bedknobs and Broomsticks is flying across the country on a musical tour, opening at our very own Palace Theatre this week for a world premiere.
A proper classic, production for the original film was given the green light by Disney studios in 1969 and received five Academy Awards in 1971.
Now, for the first time ever, a stage musical adaption of Mary Norton’s fantasy is being shown in theatres across the country.
The Manc was lucky enough to go see the magic unfold.
Michael Harrison’s stage adaption is a force to be reckoned with. Energetic, imaginative, and fun for all – it’s sure to become the nation’s new favourite.
The Palace Theatre was packed and as the house lights lowered a spooky murmur spread across the audience. Being the first stage performance of Bedknobs and Broomsticks, to say this production had some high expectations to meet is an understatement.
But, wow, Brian Hill’s adaption went above and beyond (there is literally a floating bed).
Seeing the original story come back to life was a pleasure for all, especially in such capable hands. The production also stayed loyal to the Disney classic in all the right places.
The set design was nothing short of magical and had audiences marveling at one another in the interval.
Co-director and set designer James Harrison also designed the set on Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Harrison certainly possessed the sorcery needed to conjure the magical land of ‘Bedknobs and Broomsticks’ on stage.
The iconic bed floated inexplicably above the auditorium glowing with colour and light. Miss Price commands an army of floating clothes while soaring over the audience on a broomstick. A hungry lion, a fishing bear, and a flustered bird were masterfully brought to life through puppetry. Actors turned into white rabbits and back again so seamlessly that gasps were heard followed by applause after every trick.
With these special effects, it was hard not to start believing.
West-End star Dianne Pilkington (Glinda in Wicked and Donna in Mamma Mia!) is back on the stage for the first time to play the mysterious witch Eglantine Price. A role known and loved to be Angela Lansbury’s who played Eglantine in the film, Pilkington had mighty shoes to fill.
But only Dianne Pilkington could have filled them.
Pilkington approaches the role with confidence and fresh energy. She captures the attention of all audience members through her unfailing vocal abilities and witty interpretation of the character. We couldn’t take our eyes off her.
Charles Brunton (Miss Trunchball in Matilda) played the con artist Emelius Brown with all the charm of a quintessential shabby Englishman. Brunton is the perfect match for Pilkington and the two danced around each other with perfect ease, a duo we would like to see again.
The Rawlins, three orphans evacuated from London and reluctantly adopted by Miss Price, were played by (Connor O’Hara, Evie Lightman, and Jasper Hawes). The children played their roles with sensitivity and were all strong vocal talents.
New songs and additional music and lyrics by Neil Bartram were a grand success. ‘Nobody’s Problem’ proved the five-core actor’s strength as an ensemble, their choral harmonisations added to the heart-wrenching sadness of Bartram’s lyrics.
Sherman Brother classics including ‘Age of Not Believing’ and ‘The Beautiful Briny’ made a comeback. Combined with being old favourites and the added verve of theatricality, you wondered why this was their first time being performed on stage.
But it was ‘Portobello Road’ that stole the show. Costumes dazzled with glitter, chorus members whirled around on carts and the detailed choreography won it The Manc’s song of the show.
The play was granted the standing ovation it deserved. Whoops and cheers shook the auditorium.
Home to lavish musicals and pantomimes since the beginning of the 20th Century, The Palace Theatre was the perfect place for Bedknobs and Broomsticks to open in Manchester.
The Palace has put on thousands of performances, but Bedknobs and Broomsticks is sure to become a gem in the crown jewels.
Grab your tickets for its run in Manchester here. Or if not, you can chase it as it flies round the rest of the country here.
Manchester dates: October 19 – 24
Directors: Candice Edmunds and Jamie Harrison
Running Time: 2 hours
Featured Image – Johan Persson
Man arrested after Stockport homes were evacuated due to ‘suspected hazardous materials’
A man has been arrested after the discovery of “suspected hazardous materials” led to several homes being evacuated in Stockport.
Greater Manchester Police (GMP) explained that the discovery of the so-called “suspected hazardous materials” was made by police yesterday (Thursday 1 June) during a search of a property on Middleton Road in the Reddish area of Stockport.
Officers attended the property in response to intelligence about the manufacturing of illegal fireworks.
No injuries have been reported following the discovery, GMP confirmed, and a 100-metre cordon is currently believed to still be in place around the area.
Residents of the several homes that were asked to evacuate yesterday have been relocated, either to the homes of their family and friends, or directed by Stockport Council to Houldsworth Village and Broadstone Road if they had no alternative accommodation.
The residents were told by GMP that, although they would be kept regularly updated, it was “unlikely they will be able to return home,” yesterday evening.
Following the discovery, GMP declared a major incident and instructed specially-trained representatives from relevant agencies to conduct the “timely and safe recovery” of the hazardous materials, all while asking members of the public to “avoid the area” so this could be carried out.
The arrested suspect, a 50-year-old man, is currently being held in police custody under Section 4 of the Explosive Substances Act.
“We understand this news will have caused some concern in the community, not just amongst the residents who have unfortunately been displaced,” Chief Inspector Jamie Collins admitted in a statement addressing the ongoing situation yesterday.
“Our highest priority is keeping people safe, which is why we have put a cordon in place, evacuated properties, and warned members of the public to avoid the area.
With it being the first time the two Manchester clubs have battled it out for the trophy in the final in the 151-year-old football competition’s illustrious history, tens of thousands of fans are expected to make the journey down to the capital.
But with this influx of excitable rival fans, admittedly, comes a set of challenges.
This is why The FA and TfGM have decided to introduce some measures, and issue travel tips and guidance, in a bid to make sure everyone stays safe, while still soaking in all the atmosphere of the historic day at the same time.
Due to what TfGM has called “significant” coordinated strike action by rail unions RMT and Aslef on Saturday, all supporters heading to the FA Cup final are advised to avoid trains and “consider alternative travel arrangements” instead – making sure to allow “additional time for travel” and planning their journeys “ahead of time”.
Fans are also being asked to check the road network carefully, as it’s also highly likely that traditional routes to Wembley will be “busier than normal” as a result of rail strikes.
The FA has confirmed that it will be providing 60 coaches for both Manchester clubs to help supporters get to Wembley and return to Manchester once the game has finished, but aside from this, TfGM has suggested that “anyone without an official match ticket should not travel to the game”.
The two Manchester clubs have been advised to encourage fans to use separate travel routes to each other to avoid clashes, and a list of service stations for each team has now also been published – confirming all the rumours to be true.
Allocation of motorway service stations
Manchester City supporters
Manchester United supporters
When it comes to the travel routes supporters of each team are advised to take, TfGM is urging Manchester City fans to take the M62/M1 as the first port of call, or taking the M6/M1 or M6/M6 Toll/M1 as a back-up option.
Manchester United supporters are encouraged to take the M6/M42/M40.
On top of information on travel routes and service station allocations, TfGM has also shared tips for matchday parking, tube travel around London, and more.