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The Worst Witch review: a burst of singing, dancing and a sprinkling of magic at the Theatre Royal

PUBLISHED: 11:19 17 April 2019 | UPDATED: 11:21 17 April 2019

The Worst Witch. Picture: Supplied by Norwich Theatre Royal

The Worst Witch. Picture: Supplied by Norwich Theatre Royal

Supplied by Norwich Theatre Royal

There was magic and giggles during the opening show of The Worst Witch at the Norwich Theatre Royal last night.

The Worst Witch. Picture: Supplied by Norwich Theatre RoyalThe Worst Witch. Picture: Supplied by Norwich Theatre Royal

If you've ever ended up somewhere you didn't expect, where you seem to be the only one to have very little idea of what's going on - but you still try and fit in, you'll know exactly how Mildred is feeling.

Mildred is The Worst Witch, but for optimism and trying hard while having no idea why she's at a witch academy rather than the high school she expected, she's definitely not the worst witch.

The musical landed in a burst of singing, dancing and a sprinkling of magic at the Theatre Royal this week, bringing the stories by Jill Murphy very much to real life.

A cast of just ten actors transported us to Miss Cackle's Academy, complete with teachers, musicians and pupils – some far nicer than others.

The Worst Witch. Picture: Supplied by Norwich Theatre RoyalThe Worst Witch. Picture: Supplied by Norwich Theatre Royal

We met smarty-pants Ethel and her sidekicks, exuberant Enid and the very lovely Maud, who brought some nifty trapeze skills into a broomstick flying display.

It's a fun show with plenty of giggles for the beautiful near-slapstick routines and some fabulous synchronicity with cats and broomsticks, and for some (deliberately) awful singing and a few problems with spells. Seeing the perfectly horrid Ethel (Rosie Abraham) transformed into a pig, and a snail, had my eight-year-old Worst Witch fan chuckling for ages.

Miss Cackle (Polly Lister) was exactly as imagined; dreamy, kind hearted and far too nice. Her transformation into her evil twin Agatha was so believable my little one was convinced it was a different actress – particularly when she belted out a showstopper of a song.

It meant the nuances of the second half were slightly confusing to my little Worst Witch fan who found herself liking the power of Agatha (while hating her pantomime dame dress), wondering who had locked who where, whose magic was working and whether the cats were okay.

The Worst Witch. Picture: Supplied by Norwich Theatre RoyalThe Worst Witch. Picture: Supplied by Norwich Theatre Royal

But that's witch school; it's bright, it's busy, it's full of song, dance and mystery – and she now wants to go there and be Mildred's friend.

What's more, as a little one who sometimes finds the world a confusing place; seeing Mildred feeling out of place but having fun and never giving up gave her a sense that it's okay to feel different.

Jo Malone's daughter Thalia with Dani Bird who plays Mildred in The Worst Witch. Photo: Jo MaloneJo Malone's daughter Thalia with Dani Bird who plays Mildred in The Worst Witch. Photo: Jo Malone

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