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Previewed 3 March 2005, Opened 9 March 2005, Closed 2 April 2005 at the Wyndham's Theatre in London
The Birmingham Repertory Theatre Company's stage prodcution of Roald Dahl's The Witches in London starring Ruby Wax and directed by Jonathan Church.
It's the story of what happens when one brave boy gets tangled up with a whole conference load of them, meeting at a seaside hotel disguised as members of the Society For the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. The audience is transported from a rustic cottage in Norway, to the Hotel Magnificent in Bournemouth. There are wonderful mouse's-eye views of the plush staircases and rooms - and some shocking sights as people disappear into thin air on stage, or turn into mice before the audiences eyes.
The cast for The Witches features Ruby Wax as the 'Grand High Witch' with Dilys Laye as 'Grandmother', Giles Cooper, Peter Holdway and Keith Saha. Please note that the role of 'Grand High Witch' will be played by Katerina Jugati at 10.20am on March 8, 1.30pm on March 9 and 2.00pm on March 15, 16, 18, 23, 25, 30 and April 1. Written by Roald Dahl and adapted for the stage by David Wood, this production is directed by Jonathan Church with choreograph by Jenny Arnold, designs by Simon Higlett, lighting by Mark Jonathan, music by Matthew Scott, sound by Paul Groothrus and illusions by Paul Kieve. PLEASE NOTE: This production is most suitable for children aged seven plus. Roald Dahl's other London shows include Matilda, Fantastic Mr Fox and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
"For the next three weeks Roald Dahl's The Witches is back in town. True, it has been around a while - even the film was out back in 1990. But this new stage production at Wyndham's far outclasses all others, not least because of Ruby Wax as a magnificently malevolent chief witch, wonderfully supported with some truly magical magic by Paul Kieve, the personal magician to Harry Potter himself... The great expert on children's theatre, David Wood, has done a nifty stage adaptation... what matters here is that he and his great cast have got the tone of Dahl so perfectly right - that tricky mix of the savage and the satirical, the innocent and the all knowing, the witty and the wicked. This is a show, then, for children of all ages under about 17 - and maybe for a good many of their parents as well." The Daily Express
"Despite Jonathan Church's excellent track-record, however - his last production to reach the West End was a fine version of Of Mice and Men - the result is rather tame. The main problem lies with the witches themselves. Having them gather at a hotel in Bournemouth, pretending to be delegates to a meeting of the NSPCC, was one of Dahl's happier strokes. Rightly handled, their show of gentility can be thoroughly sinister. But on this occasion, thanks to perfunctory presentation, the opportunity is thrown away. Only Ruby Wax , as the Grand High Witch of England, is given a chance to let rip, but despite a slinky black costume, a German accent and the best efforts of the make-up department, she fails to arouse the authentic delighted shudder or nervous laugh." The Sunday Telegraph
"My children's favourite moment in Roald Dahl's The Witches is when the child-hating Grand High Witch removes the mask that is her pretty lady's face and reveals her true features, wormeaten and putrefying. Alas, this gleefully gruesome episode is missing from David Wood's harmless adaptation. Ruby Wax, as the Grand High Witch, has a dodgy nose and some nasty looking boils, but in a chiffon number that is almost glamorous she stops well short of looking grisly. Wood replaces Dahl's delight in things disgusting with lots of cute mouse-business in which the Borrowers meet Chaplinesque comedy as two boys in mouse suits struggle to climb huge stairs without leaving their chocolate behind them. Dilys Laye is a wonderful wise old Norwegian grandmother who loves her tiny mousegrandson regardless. The rest of the cast act with cartoonish exaggeration, all in vain." The Mail on Sunday
The Witches in London at the Wyndham's Theatre previewed from 3 March 2005, opened on 9 March 2005 and closed on 2 April 2005.