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Review of Bedknobs and Broomsticks as Disney classic casts spell over Sunderland Empire

The Disney musical Bedknobs and Broomsticks brought witchery, magic and underwater ballroom dancing to Wearside.

Thursday, 21st April 2022, 2:09 pm

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The stage adaptation of the 1971 movie Bedknobs and Broomsticks enchanted Sunderland last night, Wednesday April 21 as the magical performance stopped by the North East on its UK wide tour.

While not being a carbon copy of the original, the essence and nostalgia of the 70s classic was beautifully regenerated.

The story begins in wartime Britain with Miss Eglantine Price, a trainee witch who has hopes of assisting war efforts with magic, and three orphaned evacuee children, Charlie, Carrie and Paul.

Bedknobs & Broomsticks. Directors _ Candice Edmunds and Jamie Harrison, Music - Sherman Brothers, Director/Set & Illusion Design - Jamie Harrison, Costume Design- Gabriella Slade, Choreographer / Movement Director- Neil Bettles, Lighting Design- Simon Wilkinson, Theatre Royal, Newcastle, 2021, Credit: Johan Persson/

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After travelling from London to Dorset, the three siblings don’t quite settle in straight away at the home of Miss Price and hatch a plan to escape.

During the first scenes, you see the close bond and chemistry of the three children played by Conor O’ Hara as Charlie, Sapphire Hagon as Carrie and Haydn Court as Paul who want to create a sense of family after losing their parents.

Conor O’ Hara delivered a ‘strong’ older brother figure as soon as he stepped onto the stage, while also portraying a cheeky, charismatic personality as a reminder that his character was still only 13-years-old.

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Bedknobs & Broomsticks. Directors _ Candice Edmunds and Jamie Harrison, Music - Sherman Brothers, Director/Set & Illusion Design - Jamie Harrison, Costume Design- Gabriella Slade, Choreographer / Movement Director- Neil Bettles, Lighting Design- Simon Wilkinson, Theatre Royal, Newcastle, 2021, Credit: Johan Persson/

His youthful performance was incredible to watch and his brilliant stage presence carried his performance effortlessly.

Sapphire Hagon and Haydn Court’s rendition of Carrie and Paul was charming and sweet and their gentle comedic timings were impressive.

The three children soon warm to Miss Price after seeing her carry out her new found witchery spells with her broomstick and using magic travel to London in the search of Emelius Brown, the head of the school of witchcraft.

West End star Dianne Pilkington, who took the role of Miss Price, displayed her outstanding vocal talent and perfectly played on the eccentric character.

Bedknobs & Broomsticks. Directors _ Candice Edmunds and Jamie Harrison, Music - Sherman Brothers, Director/Set & Illusion Design - Jamie Harrison, Costume Design- Gabriella Slade, Choreographer / Movement Director- Neil Bettles, Lighting Design- Simon Wilkinson, Theatre Royal, Newcastle, 2021, Credit: Johan Persson/

The adventures continue after the foursome find Mr Brown, played by Charles Brunton who expertly reflected the muddled and blasé head of the school of witchcraft.

During their extensive journey to find a particular spell in a bid to defeat the enemy, the special effects and magical scenery are second to none as the new found friends visit Portobello Road and island Nopeepo.

I was astonished at the lights, the scenery, the costumes and the sparkles – even as an adult!

Bedknobs & Broomsticks. Directors _ Candice Edmunds and Jamie Harrison, Music - Sherman Brothers, Director/Set & Illusion Design - Jamie Harrison, Costume Design- Gabriella Slade, Choreographer / Movement Director- Neil Bettles, Lighting Design- Simon Wilkinson, Theatre Royal, Newcastle, 2021, Credit: Johan Persson/

The glorious special effects were simple but effective, I would even go as far to say that I began to believe in the magic as if I was a child again.

The group’s trip to Portobello Road was manic and excitable, which was captured with the dim lighting, and a bellowing musical number which saw dancers prancing across the stage in a hectic yet synced manner.

In particular, the underwater ballroom scene led by funny Rob Madge as singing fish, Norton was visually enchanting, and warm – it was if the scene was something only your imagination could see.

The performance was both colourful and magical which took a sad period of British history and turned it into something that made me feel happy and warm inside.

Bedknobs and Broomsticks will play at Sunderland Empire until Sunday, April 24 and tickets are available from the Ticket Centre on 0844 8717615 or online at www.ATGtickets.com/sunderland

Bedknobs & Broomsticks. Directors _ Candice Edmunds and Jamie Harrison, Music - Sherman Brothers, Director/Set & Illusion Design - Jamie Harrison, Costume Design- Gabriella Slade, Choreographer / Movement Director- Neil Bettles, Lighting Design- Simon Wilkinson, Theatre Royal, Newcastle, 2021, Credit: Johan Persson/
Bedknobs & Broomsticks. Directors _ Candice Edmunds and Jamie Harrison, Music - Sherman Brothers, Director/Set & Illusion Design - Jamie Harrison, Costume Design- Gabriella Slade, Choreographer / Movement Director- Neil Bettles, Lighting Design- Simon Wilkinson, Theatre Royal, Newcastle, 2021, Credit: Johan Persson/
Bedknobs & Broomsticks. Directors _ Candice Edmunds and Jamie Harrison, Music - Sherman Brothers, Director/Set & Illusion Design - Jamie Harrison, Costume Design- Gabriella Slade, Choreographer / Movement Director- Neil Bettles, Lighting Design- Simon Wilkinson, Theatre Royal, Newcastle, 2021, Credit: Johan Persson/