Room on the Broom
Civic Theatre, Chelmsford
Sunday 4th November 2012
Based on the best-selling children's book by Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler, this live version of the witch and her cat aboard their increasingly busy broomstick tours the UK prior to a stint at the Lyric Theatre, London.
Opening outside of the story, with the four actors seemingly on a camping trip, the real action took time to get going and the noise levels in the auditorium began to rise as the children struggled to engage. However, as soon as the witch and her cat arrived the show took off.
Slick and well executed, the story was familiar and the songs were catchy and nicely woven into the story. Some wonderfully integrated puppetry was used to depict the various additional passengers on the broom, with all four actors working multiple characters at different times. Some more opportunities for audience participation would have gone down well, and possibly a small volume increase on the microphones - especially early on when trying to capture the children's attention.
Billed as ages 3 and up, I would suggest that only a very attentive 3 year old sitting near the front would be likely to engage sufficiently to enjoy this particular show, but the slightly older children seemed to thoroughly enjoy the experience. Easy to see why it has become a best-seller, this is a bright and energetic portrayal of a delightful story that gives children the chance to see these beloved characters come to life.