Reviewed by Louise Watts
Last night, I accompanied my 13-year-old daughter to the Orchard Theatre to see Jill Murphy’s Worst Witch come to life on stage. Jill has sold over 5 million copies of her Worst Witch stories since her first one was published in 1974 and they have been made into many a television series.
The story is based in the Miss Cackle School of Witchcraft and revolves around the girls in training there, particularly the rather clumsy and unprofessional Mildred Hubble (played tonight by Meg Forgan). Meg stepped into the role as the understudy and I have to say she was absolutely incredible. You would never have suspected that she didn’t play that part all of the time. At school, Mildred has a rather poor relationship with the snobby, rather over confident Ethel Hallow who comes from a long line of witches and clearly believes she rules the roost. Ethel was played by Rosie Abraham who was so believable and really could not be faulted at all in the way she delivered the role.
The performance was very cleverly executed in that the cast introduced themselves in their roles and then performed a play which told the story of how Miss Cackle’s evil twin sister Agatha plots to take over the school and steal all of her magic.
There were 2 outstanding scenes during the show for me. The first was the Broomstick display which was incredible and the second was Polly Lister performing as both Agatha and Miss Cackle at the same time. She was absolutely brilliant and how she remembered which voice to put on at which time was beyond my understanding!
The set was simple but perfect and when it “fell apart” later in the second half, it occurred in a remarkable way which was very realistic. The costumes were brilliant and suited the characters well.
The Orchard Theatre was a delightful venue as always. There were the usual snacks and drinks available and the staff were pleasant as normal. There were a few sound issues tonight which was a shame but the cast managed to keep going and rise above it all, which shows their level of professionalism. There was lots of merchandise available, but I was a little sad to see that it was all cash only. Having fought the M25 for 2 hours to get to Dartford, I did not have any cash which meant that I was unable to purchase a programme which was a shame.
Parking was as always really easy in the adjacent multi storey car park and at a flat rate of £3 for the evening, it was ideal. You can even pay for your parking before going into the theatre, meaning you can make a quick exit after the show and avoid the queues!
The show is recommended for ages 7+ and I think this is a fair age. It would be suitable for younger children as long as they are not scared of witches and they can sit through the 2-hour show (with an interval). I would thoroughly recommend this show to people who read the books as children and want their children to experience it too or anyone with children aged 7 – 15 who I guarantee will love it! Myself and my daughter thought it was fantastic and an absolute must-see musical for all would be witches.
Tickets cost from £19.50 to £26.50 (booking fees may apply).
The Worst Witch is at the Orchard Theatre in Dartford from 27 February to 3 March 2019, for more information or to book tickets visit orchardtheatre.co.uk or call the box office on 01322 220000.
The Orchard Theatre, Home Gardens, Dartford, DA1 1ED | 01322 220000