Jill Murphy’s The Worst Witch
King’s Theatre Edinburgh
Tuesday 7 to Sunday 12 May 2019
The Worst Witch is directed by Theresa Heskins (2017 UK Theatre Award for Best Show for Children and Young People) and designed by Simon Daw, with music by Luke Potter. Kenny Wax Family Entertainment, Novel Theatre and Nica Burns present a Royal & Derngate, Northampton Production.
Jill Murphy says: “My first trip to the theatre aged four, opened up a magical world – so real to me, that I had to be restrained from climbing onstage to help the children in peril! My mum was quite cross with me, but I never wanted the show to end and sang the songs loudly all the way home on the bus. Imagine how proud I feel, all these years later, seeing my own Mildred Hubble on stage with all the characters from Miss Cackle’s Academy. I still feel thrilled to bits when I go to the theatre and The Worst Witch is a magical production.”
Emma Reeves added: “We’ve created a brand-new story as well as revisiting moments from the books. Jealous Ethel Hallow is out to spoil Mildred’s fun, and Miss Hardbroom is opposed to all fun in general. But, without giving too much away, Mildred faces a greater danger than she ever imagined as an old enemy returns, with a plan for revenge that could threaten not just the Academy, but the whole world…”
Theresa Heskins says: “We’ve seen the start of a rebalancing of power within our society and it feels like an important time to be creating a play about young women who are learning, collectively and individually, to use their power; and the danger if they decide to use it not for good but for ill.”
Jill Murphy’s The Worst Witch stories have sold more than five million copies and been made into films and TV series by HBO, ITV and CBBC. There are now eight Worst Witch titles. The Worst Witch was made into a television series for ITV in the early 1990s and there is currently a major television series with CBBC. Jill is also well known for her picture books. She was commended for the 1980 Kate Greenaway Medal for Peace At Last. Five Minute’s Peace, the first in her series about the Large Family (of elephants), won the 1987 Parents Magazine Best Books for Babies Award, as well as being shortlisted for the 1986 Children’s Book Award. From the same series, All In One Piece was highly commended for the 1987 Kate Greenaway Award and shortlisted for the 1987 Children’s Book Award, and A Quiet Night In was short-listed for the Kate Greenaway Medal in 1994. The Last Noo-Noo won the 0-5 category of the 1995 Smarties Book Prize and in the same year was shortlisted for the English 4-11 Outstanding Children’s Book of the Year, going on to win the 1996 Sheffield Children’s Book Award. The Last Noo-Noo won the 1996 Gateshead Gold Award and in the same year was adapted as a play and performed at the Polka Theatre, London
Winner of the Royal Television Society Award for Best Children’s Television Programme, and of the 2017 British Screenwriters Award for Best Children’s Programme for the television adaptations of The Worst Witch, Emma Reeves’ screen writing credits include Eve, The Dumping Ground, Young Dracula and The Story of Tracy Beaker. Her stage work includes the Olivier Award-nominated and critically acclaimed adaptation of Hetty Feather (UK tour and West End).
Theresa Heskins’ past productions include The Snow Queen, which won the 2017 UK Theatre Award for Best Show for Children and Young People. Her wonderfully inventive and hugely popular production of Around the World in 80 Days was nominated for the same award, in both 2015 and 2017, and will tour to America in 2019.
The show is designed by Simon Daw, whose credits include Baskerville (Liverpool Playhouse) and Humble Boy (Orange Tree Theatre). Lighting design is by Aideen Malone, whose credits include A Monster Calls (London Old Vic/Bristol Old Vic) and Peter Pan (National Theatre), and sound design is by Leigh Davies whose recent work includes Spring Awakening (Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester) and King Lear (Old Vic). Original music is composed by Luke Potter (Hetty Feather), aerial director by Vicki Amedume, choreography by Beverley Norris-Edmunds, and illusions by John Bulleid.
Review by Kelly Lacey
Last night I ventured into the city to review The Worst Witch. I was very excited, and my mind was reliving so many memories from my childhood. The Worst Witch series were the first “proper” books I read on my own. In 1984 I remember picking it out in John Menzies and being so excited to read it. Then when the 1986 movie came out, I was addicted I taped it onto a VHS and then re-watched it many times. Even now many years later I have the movie on DVD.
So, you can imagine my delight when I knew the show was coming to Edinburgh. What I wasn’t prepared for was how utterly wonderful it would be. From start to finish any fears I had that it wouldn’t be as good as the books were dispersed. The production captures the very heart of the books and brings it to life in a spectacular manner.
The show is like a perfectly choreographed dance. Moving effortlessly from one scene to the next with such precision. But the thought and work behind each scene has been meticulously thought out.
Key stars of the show for me were Polly Lister as Agatha/Miss Cackle, Danielle Bird and Mildred Hubble and the stand out performance of the night was Rosie Abraham as Ethel whose comic timing and acting was utterly superb.
This is a show for all ages, I would go back and see it again and again. Take your kids, grandparents or your best friends for an enjoyable evening of magic, fun and fantastic musical numbers. Don’t forgot to park your broomsticks safely outside the theatre.
The Worst Witch is a show not to be missed!
Five Stars 🧹🧹🧹🧹🧹
Thank you to the team at Capital Theatres for the opportunity to review.
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