BAZ BAMIGBOYE: Bedknobs and broomsticks recast their magic

BAZ BAMIGBOYE: Bedknobs and broomsticks recast their magic

12/11/2020

BAZ BAMIGBOYE: Bedknobs and broomsticks recast their magic

Theatrical sorcery will be front and centre in the new stage version of the beloved Disney film Bedknobs And Broomsticks.

The 1971 movie musical starred Angela Lansbury as Miss Eglantine Price, an apprentice witch trying to conjure up duff spells, sold to her by fake magician Professor Emelius Browne (David Tomlinson), to stop the enemy from invading wartime Britain.

Her magical war efforts are taking place as her own life is being invaded: by three children, evacuated from London and sent to live with her in the quaint coastal village of Pepperinge Eye.

I saw the film as a kid and was amused, years later, to learn that, like Mary Poppins, it was all filmed on Hollywood sound stages! 

Theatrical sorcery will be front and centre in the new stage version of the beloved Disney film Bedknobs And Broomsticks

The 1971 movie musical starred Angela Lansbury as Miss Eglantine Price, an apprentice witch trying to conjure up duff spells 

‘Now it’s coming home’ said showman Michael Harrison, who has joined forces with Disney Theatricals president Thomas Schumacher to launch the show, with a UK tour that will take off at the Theatre Royal, Newcastle on August 14 and include a five-week Christmas season at the Grand Theatre, Leeds.

‘Who knows beyond that?’ Harrison said, though he admitted that a run in the West End would be ‘magical’. 

The musical will be directed and designed by Candice Edmunds and Jamie Harrison, the duo who founded the Vox Motus theatre company, renowned for its visual flair.

Harrison created the stunning illusions for Harry Potter And The Cursed Child at the Palace Theatre — and the Oompa Loompas for Charlie And The Chocolate Factory musical.

Her magical war efforts are taking place as her own life is being invaded: by three children, evacuated from London and sent to live with her in the quaint coastal village of Pepperinge Eye 

I saw the film as a kid and was amused, years later, to learn that, like Mary Poppins, it was all filmed on Hollywood sound stages! 

So will that bed really fly? Harrison insisted it would. He promised ‘real witch’s magic’, levitating broomsticks . . . the lot, adding that the ensemble would help facilitate Miss Price’s spells, such as the one for Substitutiary Locomotion (which is a song, too).

‘So when things fly, they fly!’ he cried. ‘And when things vanish, they vanish. Edmunds quickly interjected a warning: ‘It doesn’t work unless you’ve got the bedknob!’

All three stressed that a straight film-to-stage transformation would not work. Instead, Edmunds and Harrison have been collaborating with Brian Hill and Neil Bartram, who have written the book and new songs to join those written for the movie by the Sherman brothers — including The Beautiful Briny (bobbing along on the bottom of the beautiful briny sea) and Portobello Road.

Edmunds said they’d also gone back to the ‘original source’ — Mary Norton’s books — to help reimagine the story. 

‘Now it’s coming home’ said showman Michael Harrison, who has joined forces with Disney Theatricals president Thomas Schumacher to launch the show 

A new musical version of the story will be directed and designed by Candice Edmunds and Jamie Harrison, the duo who founded the Vox Motus theatre company, renowned for its visual flair

The young evacuees — Charlie, Carrie and Paul — will be at the heart of the tale and the song Nobody’s Problem, which tells part of their story, but which did not make the final edit of the film, will be added back in. 

Edmunds said: ‘It’s a crime that was cut, because it’s so beautiful and poignant.’

There will be other changes, too. The invading Germans, for instance, will be known as the ‘Looming Shadow’, taken from the Blitz propaganda posters.

And the partners said ‘there have been several big conversations’ about things in the film that might not gel with modern audiences or seem outdated.

For ticket and tour details: bedknobsonstage.com

WORTH A GANDER!

Herculean efforts are being made to get the West End back on a proper footing, but we’re still at the baby steps stage.

For instance, Joe Smith — one of the producers behind the award-winning Come From Away, about how the townspeople of Gander, Newfoundland embraced thousands of travellers diverted there after the 9/11 terrorist attacks — told me the musical will return to the Phoenix Theatre in concert form for 21 shows from February 10 through February 27 (with the possibility to extend for a week).

I remember being so moved when I saw it on Broadway. And Smith said the story of the many kindnesses shown to strangers is like a tonic ‘when everyone’s spirits are down’.

Herculean efforts are being made to get the West End back on a proper footing, but we’re still at the baby steps stage. Pictured: Come From Away

For instance, Joe Smith — one of the producers behind the award-winning Come From Away, about how the townspeople of Gander, Newfoundland embraced thousands of travellers diverted there after the 9/11 terrorist attacks — told me the musical will return to the Phoenix Theatre in concert form for 21 shows from February 10

He also praised the cast, all of whom have remained with the show.

Capacity at the Phoenix for Come From Away: The Concert will be cut to 500 per performance, due to social distancing. The matinee show on February 10 will be for frontline staff.

Before Come From Away headed to New York, two concerts were performed for the residents of Gander…in an ice hockey rink. 

‘We’ve taken our inspiration from that, in terms of what we’ll do in February,’ Smith told me. 

‘It’s not a sustainable model but it’s a good test to get all the rust out of our system.’  

Capacity at the Phoenix for Come From Away: The Concert will be cut to 500 per performance, due to social distancing. The matinee show on February 10 will be for frontline staff

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