The Worst Witch at the King’s Theatre, Edinburgh
The Worst Witch is advertised as for 7+ years, which might have been why its 7pm opening show wasn’t packed out on a school night.

It certainly deserved to be. For Emma Reeves’ adaption, based on Jill Murphy’s famous schoolgirl sorceress, is, literally, enchanting!

A bubbling cauldron of original music, song, dance, comedy and magic, with some death-defying broomstick-flying thrown in, this is a family show which even the most hardened of theatregoers can’t fail to enjoy.

Directed by Theresa Heskins at a cracking (or should I say, cackling) pace, The Worst Witch follows the adventures of Mildred Hubble, an ordinary girl who accidentally finds herself in Miss Cackle’s Academy for Witches.

An outsider in many ways, through a play she has written for the school to perform, she tells her story of how she dealt with being different, bullying and evil, with the girls and their teachers playing themselves. But, of course, as in the best storylines, not everything goes to plan - with electrifying results.

There are many stand-out performances in this production. The girls may look (and act) like 10-year-olds, but their acting, singing and dancing tell you otherwise. They are accomplished, all-round-performers.

Danielle Bird shows a great talent for clowning as clumsy Mildred, but packs a punch with rock-star-like singing. Rosie Abraham is perfection as the snobbish bullying Ethel, the sort of child you go into adulthood still having nightmares about. My eyes were continually drawn to Rebecca Killick who carries an air of authority as Mildred’s best friend Maud, even though at times she is delightfully excitable, while Consuela Rolle lights up the stage as extrovert Enid.

On the teaching front, Rachel Heaton as assistant head Miss Hardbroom has a look that still sends shivers down my spine. Miss Cackle, on the other hand, reminds me of a (not so flamboyant) Dame Edna Everage, and her evil twin of Tracey Ullman (sorry Tracey, nothing personal!) and keeps us thoroughly entertained.

Apparently, The Worst Witch was around long before Harry Potter, but due to my great age it was decades after my childhood so I’d never heard of Jill Murphy’s eight books and three CBBC TV series. But all the components of this production, with its nice little touches, had me spellbound. No wonder it’s going into London’s West End. Matilda, you have a rival!

Photo: Manuel Harlan

The Worst Witch is at the King’s Theatre, Edinburgh until May 12.
It then continues touring:
May 22-26: Birmingham Hippodrome
May 28-June 1: Liverpool Playhouse
Jul 24-Sept 8: Vaudeville Theatre, London