The Lieder production of Roald Dahl's The Witches (adapted by David Wood) is full of magic and fun. It should delight younger audiences and give adults a giggle as well. With songs and dancing and puppets and lots of audience engagement, it is a fun end of year pantomime for the Lieder.
Roald Dahl really knew how to write stories that children love. There is so much mischief and terror in them, rather than the sanitised stuff they seem to get in stories these days. This is what kids really like, and the more terrifying it is - the better.
Having recently re-read the book, I was wondering how director Annie Bilton would achieve the magic spells in it, including witches shrinking children into mice - on stage. I won't give it away, suffice to say that the magic of theatre and the imagination takes over.
Erin Williams plays the wise old cigar-smoking grandmother who takes her granddaughter Brunhilde (Ebony Klem) from Norway to England for a holiday, only to run into a bunch of terrifying witches in a hotel in Bournemouth. The witches have one aim, which young Brunhilde overhears - to eradicate all the children from England by turning them into mice! Will Brunhilde and her grandmother be able to stop them in time? You'll have to watch the play to find out.
We meet a lot of other characters along the way, including Grand High Witch (Cara Robinson), who is terrifying and captivating when she sings about her evil plans with the other five witches, who all looked spooky and spectacular, as they danced. We also meet Gertrude (Khloe Janes), a gluttonous child who is turned into a mouse, as well as an evil event manager (Anne Watterston).
There is a lot to like in this production, including the costumes, the songs, and the original music and songs created by Steve Routley. The dancing is choreographed by Serena Weatherall, and it is a lot of fun to watch. The puppets, created by William Pitt, are also a standout, especially the talking mice.
So, this is a fun play that has everything: music, puppets, magic, talking mice and evil witches! Your kids will love it, especially the pantomime aspects of the play, such as when the chefs try and find the mice among the audience.
The Witches opened on Friday, December 1. It continues until December 16. For other session times and tickets, check the Lieder website. It has an interval and a total running time of just under 2 hours.
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