Bedknobs and Broomsticks UK Tour Review - Mayflower Theatre, Southampton

In a time when we all feel like we need a little hope and magic in the world, the wonderful Disney tale of Bedknobs and Broomsticks has come to sweep us off our feet. Fresh off the script pages into it's first UK tour, it flew on the magical bed all the way down to the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton and Max and I were invited along for the ride!

Set against the backdrop of WW2, you are introduced to the Rawlins siblings. Charlie, Carrie and Paul are newly orphaned and now being relocated to be placed with the mysterious Eglantine Price who they quickly find out is an apprentice witch that plans to end the war with a spell or two. The four of them head on a magical bed to visit Emelius Brown (spell-master extraordinaire), to explore the backroads of Portobello Road, and to the curiously inhabited Isle of Nopeepo. As they meet new characters and creatures, the three Rawlins siblings realise that by sticking together they can face adversity and find unexpected happiness in even the darkest of places.

Stepping into the role of Eglantine Price, Dianne Pilkington brought energy, charm and perfection to the role. With just the right balance of no-nonsense and nurture, she leads the show with a broomstick and spell book in her hand. I honestly thought that I could never picture anyone but Angela Lansbury in this role, but Pilkington proved that with a little bit of magic, you can bring any character to life. Charles Brunton took to the stage as Emelius Browne, the silly and slightly awkward magician, and Conor O'Hara was a personal highlight as he played the eldest of the Rawlins siblings and brought the Cockney charm to the story. 

With an ensemble that played a multitude of characters, set, and props, you are blown away by their versatility in one show. Each of them put copious amounts of energy into each character they embodied on stage. I wish that the UK theatre awards scene had a category for the ensemble, because the Bedknobs and Broomsticks cast would sweep them all away. 

Featuring both songs from the original film and new additions by Neil Bartram, you can't help but feel whisked away in the magic of it all. Each song perfectly blends into the next and has the same whimsy and wonder as the staging and visual effects do too. With fan favourites such as "Portobello Road", and "The Beautiful Briny", you are also introduced to brilliantly new additions such as the tongue twister "Negotiality" and the magical "Substitutuary Locomotion". Each song, whilst a mix of new and old feels like it has always been a part of this tale we all know and love. 

With a striking set that starts off as the Rawlins bedroom and explodes into a set that appears to be broken shards of the war torn buildings that is manipulated like choreography by the cast, to the puppetry that brings the colourful inhabitants of Nopeepo to life, you are left in awe and wonder at the magic that is on stage. But nothing can prepare you for the live magic that happens on stage. From the flying bed, to dancing shoes, I could hear the murmur of comments during the interval from adults and children as to how this show brought this magic to life. As someone that loved the film growing up, it was absolutely spectacular to see these songs, creatures, and story brought to life. 

 This magical bed-venture (get it!) will bring a smile to the faces of every audience member. It will remind them that despite the turmoil they might be going through, that there is a glimmer of hope at every turn, you just have to believe it to find it. A wonderfully magical and entertaining show that is perfect for the whole family.

Staying at the Mayflower, Southampton until the 16th Jan, Bedknobs and Broomsticks the Musical is then continuing on it's UK tour. It's a show that I can see flying to the West End before the year is out, so catch it at your local theatre while you can. It's one not to be missed!

*Note: I was gifted tickets for this show to provide an honest review. All opinions are my own. 

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