Thomas Howells goes “bobbing along” to Wales Millennium Centre to review Disney’s stage presentation of Bedknobs & Broomsticks!
A storyline that starts off frighteningly sad before evolving into something positively humorous and wholesome is the best way to describe the stage version of Disney’s Bedknobs & Broomsticks, currently playing at Cardiff’s Wales Millennium Centre.
The live musical successfully captures the feeling of animation, (just as the original live action Disney film successfully utilised), via puppetry and technical wizardry, despite all the obvious limitations of being a stage production.
Personally, one of my favourite features of this musical is how the set adapts and builds itself around the characters, which is impossibly effective and appreciable!
I hadn’t seen the original film and the dark, but fun story is not what I was expecting. Set in the Second World War, it’s a relatively sad story but with a lot of hilarious parts to break the tragic tone. Despite how entertaining it is, I imagine it could be scarier to younger audiences during certain scenes.
The scenes where the cast literally “do magic”, are nothing short of incredible! I have no idea how they managed it! They were continuously eerie and yet beautiful, inducing an indescribable feeling. It seems totally impossible to do such things as move inanimate objects through windows and doorways on a live stage!
The lighting is generally pretty dark the whole play, moreso in act 1. For me this felt fitting to the story, when it was set in a very literal dark period of the early days of World War II.
The puppeteering they use for the animal characters who appear is really animated and always astounding (while maintaining an air of cuteness) whether it tries to be funny or powerful!
Dianne Pilkington and Charles Brunton really manage to capture their characters in funny and beautiful ways, making Miss Eglantine Price and Professor Emelius Browne’s individual stories feel far greater than not just anybody else could do. The three actors as the recently evacueed Rawlings children (led by Conor O’Court as Charlie) can be thanked for adding to the excitement and wonderment generated by the musical’s animated feeling.
Disney’s Bedknobs & Broomsticks is such a fun and outstanding experience, not only for those seeing it for the first time, but for those old enough to know and love the original film (as the appreciative gasps of wonderment from the more mature children in the audience proved).