I grew up with Jill Murphy’s Worst Witch book, and the television film in 1986 was one of my childhood favourites. On its return to television in a new series adaptation a few years ago it was a joy to sit down with my two daughters and share the fun all over again. So when I heard that it was appearing in the west end on stage, my little coven was flying there as quickly as a click of the fingers.
The Worst Witch stage show brings Miss Cackle’s academy into contemporary theatre; it’s a play within a play. Mildred Hubble and her friends are now in their final year and put on a play about life at their witching school. A show written by and starring Mildred Hubble, ‘the worst witch in the whole school’, Mildred is an ordinary girl who found herself in this extraordinary place.
With accident-prone Mildred around, through no fault of her own of course, things unravel throughout their production with mischief, mayhem and a whole lot of hocus-pocus pandemonium.
Will her frenemy Ethel accept how she is portrayed or let her jealously rule once more and start up with her conniving tricks again?
Will Miss Cackle’s wicked twin Agatha stay quiet or return to threaten the school again?
From the very start the characters were mixing within the audience, welcoming us into their world.
The children in the audience gleefully became mesmerised in the scenes and giggles abound were heard in delight, when scenes encouraged participation.
The warmth of Mildred charming us all to ‘Join the circle’ made us believe we could all have a little bit of magic too.
This subtle little difference in a stage adaptation allows for a great connection between the performers and the audience. It is a wonderful introduction to theatre for a younger audience. Though my daughters-both nearly teenagers thoroughly enjoyed it too, as did I.
Worst Witch fans will instantly identify with Mildred and her friends who are personified by the cast superbly.
Danielle Bird skittishly stumbles around exuding the warmth familiar to Mildred, Rebecca Killick as her empathetic best friend Maud is a charm and Consuela Rolle joyfully uplifts the audience as Enid.
As for our loveable nemesis; Rosie Abraham swans around the stage owning the snobbishness characteristics belonging to Ethel Hollow, so much that it’s a little bit enjoyable watching her become a pig and a snail when her spells go wrong.
Rachel Heaton as Miss Hardbroom and Polly Lister as Miss Cackles and Agatha are both equally, fearsome and beguiling retrospectively.
The Worst Witch is a magical and comical family musical including original songs which are fun and catchy, with a modern upbeat dance mix and of course a little bit of magic trickery.
My favourite trick has to be the familiars – Cats, created by hand puppets. They may be gloves but they cast the purrfect spell, offering an ingenious level of humour with creative movement and realistic sound effects from the cast that you adore them. There was also a spellbinding scene with some acrobatic broomstick antics that was a real treat for the eyes.
The Worst Witch is at the Vaudeville Theatre, 404 Strand, Covent Garden, London WC2R 0NH until Sunday September 8.
Tickets can be booked here
By Tanya Mancini