The Worst Witch

Birmingham Hippodrome,


(***** if you are seven)

Live music, gymnastics, slight of hand magic and simple do it yourself puppetry are at the heart of The Worst Witch and combined they create a magical experience which kept my seven-year-old companion engaged and entertained for the whole show (no a mean feat).

Adapted for the stage from Jill Murphy’s original books by Emma Reeves, we are all welcomed to Miss Cackles Academy enjoying the full witch experience from spell and potion class to broomstick flying lessons.

The story follows an ordinary girl – Mildred Hubble, played fantastically by Danielle Bird – who finds herself somewhere extraordinary, a school for witches. With friendships to be made, bullies to stand up to and a baddie to beat, The Worst Witch is a story about fitting in, in your own way, and being the best you can be, all messages that will have struck a chord with the watching parents who I’m sure spend their days trying to encourage this in their own children.

The staging for the show was incredibly effective with minimal props and special effects used – and those that were used could be considered low tech – but they created a magical overall affect and were deftly managed by the whole cast.


Form teacher Miss Hardbroom, played by Rachel Heaton, clashes with Danielle Bird's Mildred

We love some old school slow-motion action, which featured several times, and I can see that we will be maintaining that we are invisible for days to come. In the second half when it looked like the baddie would prevail we particularly enjoyed the school falling apart and the ‘sky’ dropping so you could see through to the backstage area – a real sense of the magical world collapsing.

The physical theatre was very well done, the flying display was a feat of acrobatics both Mildred and best-friend Maud, played by Rebecca Killick, swung and hung and dangled believably and with an edge of excitement and danger as we wondered if they actually would fall off their broomsticks!

Polly Lister’s Agatha/Miss Cackle certainly stepped up the physical theatre in act two with Polly deftly pulling off both characters at the same time! Polly’s performance was a hit, just the right side of mad and with some scary moments she was the perfect, funny, villain that the whole audience enjoyed booing.

brom and moon

 Mildred finds that broom flying is not all its cracked up to be

My companion is still talking about the moment Agatha walked out of the theatre which he couldn’t believe – he’s never seen an actor leave the auditorium before – and he thought this was outstandingly funny. He also particularly enjoyed the moments the performers spoke directly to the audience especially when Rosie Abraham’s Ethel told us to ‘go stuff ourselves with ice cream’ which of course we duly did!

We loved the live music on stage, and part of the stage, performed wonderfully by Molly-Grace Cutler, Meg Forgan and Megan Leigh Mason, together they created the sound effects and atmosphere for the whole show, and in the case of the evil Agatha provided a soundtrack to her dastardly plans.

The story culminates with friends and enemies working together to save the day because as the characters tell us, everyone is a potential powerhouse! We flew out of the theatre feeling pretty good about ourselves reminded that just because we are not like everyone else it doesn’t mean we cannot be the best we can be, and you can’t argue with that, in fact that’s pretty magical.

It’s 4 Stars from me. 5 stars from my theatre companion. To 26-05-19

Helen Annetts and Joe Statham


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