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Bedknobs and Broomsticks

Bedknobs and Broomsticks

The Magical Musical… and magical it was!

Based on the much-loved Disney film ‘Bedknobs and Broomsticks’, this musical features the original music from The Sherman Brothers and new songs and music by Neil Bartram.

The opening scenes see us thrown into the midst of WW2 London, and we travel to the countryside with the three young Rawlins children as they are evacuated to live with the mysterious Miss Price. The ensemble seamlessly move the set around the children reflecting how young evacuees were very much ‘lifted’ and ‘passed’ from their homes to the countryside, their world picked up and spinning around them. However, as we are set down in Pepperinge Eye and the children await the arrival of the illustrious Miss Price, Aidan Oti (as Paul), Sapphire Hagon (as Carrie) and Conor O’Hara (as Charlie) bring childhood innocence, humour and joy to the stage as they envisage a brave and kind adventurer, older brother Charlie teasing his siblings that Miss Price will be a witch.

Dianne Pilkington commands the stage from her very first entrance and we immediately warm to Miss Price and her naïve efforts to engage with the children. Once again, the set is cleverly manoeuvred by the cast as wheels and side cart panels appear and form Miss Price’s infamous motorcycle.

It is at Miss Price’s house however, that the magic really begins. We are intrigued by how Miss Price is actually able to ‘fly’ across the stage on her broomstick, and then impressed as she transforms young Charlie into a rabbit using a spell. Stage craft cleverly conceals Charlie’s disappearance with the replacement of a puppet rabbit, bringing laughs throughout the auditorium.

The magic continues as Miss Price reveals her identity as a trainee witch to the children and, drawing them into her secrets, she attempts to travel by bed to London to meet Mr Browne. And we are not disappointed…fly the bed quite literally does! The audience are dazzled as Miss Price and the children travel through the clouds and over the streets of London, no hints or contraptions revealed that give away the secrets of its success!

The Portobello Road street scene is busy and bustling, the cast dressed in elaborate costumes, weaving their street carts in between each other so that there is always something that draws the eye – this scene really captures the heart of London. The cast then use puppets to create the underwater ‘Beautiful Briny Sea’ scene and to create comedy through the lion king of Nepeepo and his trusty servants.

Later, back in Pepperinge Eye, Miss Price, now along with Mr Browne and the children, tries to use magic to bring armour and clothes to life so they can be sent into war, the invasion fast approaching their home. With their shared belief in magic and their love for each other, they slowly see items, one by one, moving to the beat of the ‘Substitutiary Locomotion’ spell. Before long, the stage is alive with dresses and shirts and scarves dancing, being swept across the stage by the ensemble.

This show is full of energy, magic and love. We see a wonderful balance of humour, sincerity and vulnerability from Dianne Pilkington as she finally finds love in Mr Browne and a family in the children and Charles Brunton captures the eccentric, yet loving, character of Emelius Browne.

An evening of fun, humour and of course…magic!

  • : admin
  • : 22/09/2021
Kevin Quantum Eyes Shut Eyes Open

Kevin Quantum Eyes Shut Eyes Open

Magic has enjoyed something of a welcome rebirth over the last few years, particularly at the Edinburgh Fringe. It was good, therefore, to see some magicians among the performers at the London Wonderground, and Kevin Quantum’s Eyes Open Eyes Shut kept an audience of all ages engrossed and entertained in the purple cow on a very wet afternoon.

His is an engaging and sometimes low-key persona and it takes a while for an audience to warm to him, but by the end of the show they had certainly done so. As a one-time scientist, Kevin takes an appropriately scientific approach and presents what is in some ways a highly entertaining but educative lecture about magic and its basic principles. He does so, of course, without in any way betraying the secrets – or at least only those he can then undercut by adding an unexpected twist.

Rather than large scale illusions, the show is based mainly on sleight of hand and misdirection, and he is extremely talented at both. The show has been carefully crafted with various ideas or events cunningly planted early on, and then leading to later results. The easy chat with the audience (including a quick impromptu aside in Russian to a group at the front) creates a relaxed atmosphere so that it becomes easier to fool people – and then tell them how they have been fooled.

The silent opening routine with sand, water and changing colours seemed to belong to a different show however, impressive though it was, and the audience definitely preferred the later conversational approach and the use of everyday objects. He is adept at getting the best from audience volunteers without in any way belittling them, and whether they were adults or children. Good as it was, the show would probably also benefit from a director who could get more response from some of the stunning reveals which did not always receive the applause they deserved – or maybe it was just a damp, slow audience.

Essentially a metamagic show, Eyes Open Eyes Shut is a fascinating hour with highlights being the (apparently explained but not really) cup and ball routine and the final reveal linked to the photo everyone took on their phones – the content of which it would not be fair to mention.

Catch Kevin Quantum if you can, on tour or at the Edinburgh International Magic Festival ( this winter.



If you asked me to describe Wonderville in one word, it would be nigh-on impossible – it see-saws from one kind of act to another quicker than you can say “abracadabra!”.

A magic and illusion show, currently keeping the Palace Theatre warm until Harry Potter and the Cursed Child returns in the autumn, Wonderville is hosted by Chris Cox, who would give the Duracell Bunny a run for its money. His portions of the show are akin to watching an entertainer at a kids’ birthday party – you get used to the enthusiasm and bad jokes after a while, but it’s a bit jarring to start with. Wonderville’s posters are dark and vintage-looking, so Chris’s bouncy, cheesy energy wasn’t what I expected, but the mind reading he performs on random members of the audience is quite jaw dropping.

The pace of the show slows several times with the presence of “Stage Magician of the Year 2018” Edward Hilsum. Softly spoken, he talks about witnessing his first magic show aged seven and proceeds to produce dove after dove… after dove! from seemingly impossible places. There is nothing particularly dynamic about his act but it’s a solid display of good old fashioned slight-of-hand trickery.

Wonderville plays host to a different guest star each night, but we were treated to two as sadly, regular female illusionist Josephine Lee was injured and out of action. Our guest magicians were Kat Hudson and Emily England. Emily has been a Las Vegas headliner and contorts into all sort of impossible shapes whilst performing her mainly card-based act.

Kat Hudson, with her thick Hull accent, is relatable (or, as Alicia Dixon called her on Britain’s Got Talent, “normal”) and this section again feels different to some of the others, with no music and lots of audience interaction.

Then there is Symoné, a sassy roller skating hula hooper. I felt sad for her, as you really could tell this was a Monday night audience; for me, anyone roller skating on platform boots whilst spinning four hoops around various parts of their body deserves continuous whoops and applause but perhaps the audience were just mesmerised.

But the stars of the show are comedy illusionist duo Young & Strange. They have costume changes, truckloads of very expensive looking props (think sawing a woman in half etc), and really don’t take themselves too seriously. Plus, their last set, including pyrotechnics and two tigers (sort of), was backed by Phil Collins and other eighties power ballads, which ticks all the boxes for me!

Wonderville is described as “a vaudevillian journey of illusion [putting] a fresh, dynamic and thrilling spin on one of the greatest historical art forms”, but I’m not sure this is completely accurate. There is nothing that fresh or dynamic about the show, and certainly nothing an audience hasn’t seen before at a Royal Variety Performance or on the aforementioned Britain’s Got Talent. It could have been more cohesively put together and perhaps it should try and decide what kind of show it’s really trying to be. But the simple fact we’re all back at a theatre watching a grown man dressed as a tiger appear from a fiery silver box… I don’t think it matters too much.

  • : admin
  • : 02/08/2021