Bedknobs and Broomsticks – Palace Theatre, Manchester

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Having seen the iconic 1971 film about a zillion times, not least because it was about the only video that my primary school possessed, I wasn’t sure how this was going to translate to the stage, but it really was very good.  Some new songs had been added in, but I think most people were waiting for the old favourites.   The Portobello Road scene was superb, and giving the MC fish in the Beautiful Briny Ballroom a Blackpool accent really was a very clever touch 🙂 .

They managed very well with the flying bed, but the animals’ football match was missed out, possibly because it would have been too difficult to show on stage.  This wasn’t a megabucks production like The Lion King, and a lot of it was done with puppets and or cast members coming on stage to spin motorbike wheels, hold things up etc – but it did work fine.   Great performances from all the cast, especially the children – they’re big parts for little ones.  Oh, but, before anyone asks, no, they did not include the infamous “What’s that got to do with my knob?” line.  Spoilsports!!

Unlike in the film, they did actually show the bombings, they spelt out the fact that the children’s parents had been killed in the Blitz, and we saw the eldest boy being very reluctant to go back to London.  I thought that that worked very well.  But no-one ever actually referred to the Nazis, just to “the enemy”; there was no mention of the professor joining the Home Guard; and, most bizarrely of all, we were suddenly informed at the end that the entire plot had been a product of the children’s imagination and that they were still waiting for Miss Price to collect them from the local evacuation co-ordinator.  I have no idea what that last bit was in aid of, so I shall just try to forget about it!  Other than that, it was very good.

This was my first visit to the theatre since February 2020.  I did book to go to the pantomime last year, but the Evil Tier restrictions meant that it got cancelled.  We were asked to show Covid passes at the door.  There’s been a lot of muttering about spot checks at football matches but I’ve never been checked yet, and I don’t know anyone who has, but everyone was asked at the theatre.  This is something that’s up to individual theatres.   It was a bit strange, but I was OK with it.  However, I wasn’t very impressed that only one in nine people (and, yes, I was sad enough to count) on the bus into town had a mask on, despite there being clear signs up saying “Please wear a face covering on board”.  Come on, folks, could we Do Our Bit, please?  It’s really not that much of a hassle to wear a mask on a local journey.  \lecture

Great to be back at the theatre, great to be seeing a brand new production, and great to hear some much-loved songs belted out on stage.  All in all, a very good night!

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