The Witches of Eastwick – Watermill, Bagnor

(Left to right) Popp Tierney, Tiffany Graves and Joanna Hickman in The Witches of Eastwick. PictureL Philip Tull

(Left to right) Poppy Tierney, Tiffany Graves and Joanna Hickman in The Witches of Eastwick at the Watermill Theatre, Bagnor. Picture: Philip Tull

The Witches of Eastwick continues at the Watermill Theatre, Bagnor until 14 September.

For those with expectations based on the acclaimed 1987 film of The Witches of Eastwick, there are strong parallels to be drawn with the three superb leading lady performances in this production at the Watermill. For those with mixed feelings who caught John Dempsey and Dana P Rowe’s musical stage version during its run in the West End from July 2000 to October 2001, or indeed those first-timers who have not yet been seduced by the wickedly devilish Darryl Van Horne, there could be some doubt during the early stages of this revival as to its potential success.

However, though efforts to create the unearthly winds of change in the town of Eastwick initially seem contrived, Craig Revel Horwood’s inimitable work as director and choreographer ultimately takes off, particularly with the ‘Dirty Laundry’ number, and from then on the production switches up several gears and becomes a truly exciting and enjoyable show.

Joanna Hickman as Jane Smart excels in the scene during which Van Horne seduces her through her love of music, Poppy Tierney is a revelation as Alexandra Spofford, and Tiffany Graves (Sukie Rougemont) is a perfect example of frustration personified. All three have amazing vocals and forcefully carry the show with the full support of a talented cast of actor/musicians.

Alex Bourne is excellent as the sycophantic seducer, with Rosemary Ashe as the snooty Townswomen Guild chairperson Felicia Gabriel who becomes a comedic target for the black magic of Van Horne. Jeffrey Harmer plays her not-so-innocent long suffering husband Clyde.

The circular set design by Tom Rogers not only gives a microcosmic view of the sexual frustrations of the trio of disillusioned women, but also appears to scrutinise the outside world through a telescopic lens while allowing outside influences in. White clapboard fascias and port-hole windows place the story very firmly in New England. And the design really comes into its own with some creative illusions as the witches realise their powers and romp with Van Horne.

Also in the cast are Naomi Petersen and Ross William Wild as young lovers Jennifer Gabriel and Michael Spofford, with Esther Biddle, Dexter Galang, Cici Howells, Greg Last, Gary Mitchinson and Gavin Whitworth completing the line-up. Musical supervisor is Paul Herbert.

Julie Watterston

Alex Bourne is interviewed in the latest issue of Musical Theatre


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