A very well executed and ambitious productionHarry Stockwell

The Witches of Eastwick tells the story of thee thirty-something women (Julia Kass, Lucy Dickson and Joanna Clarke) who, bored of men and small town New England life and completely unaware that they all happen to be witches, accidentally summon up the ‘perfect’ man in the form of devilish Darryl Van Horne (George Longworth). However, things quickly get out of hand when he begins to manipulate them, while they gradually become more powerful than they (or he) realised was possible.

It was a very well executed and ambitious production, and the scene transitions were all managed impressively seamlessly. The cast were enthusiastic and lively (always important in a musical) which meant that they could carry scenes even when, at times, the standard of the acting wasn’t as high as it might have been. Worth mention here is Tom Beaven, who plays his small but memorable role as Fidel with delicious zest.

However, one of the biggest niggles I had with The Witches of Eastwick was the script itself.  Claiming to be “a show which glories in the power and character of its female leads”, it seemed unable to decide whether it wanted to be a feel-good story of female best friends reminiscent of the First Wives Club, or a sharp and witty satire on New England small town life.

While described as “not for the faint hearted”, the musical would have been more interesting if they had committed fully to the black comic. Perhaps this was why the disparity between the first and the second half felt so jarring – what came after the interval seemed to lose much of its playful, comic edge. Indeed even Longworth (who played Van Horne) became over the top and unlikeable when before he had managed to stay the right side of roguish and charming.

That aside, the music was top-notch. Both the singing and the orchestra sounded fantastic, and no one’s voice was noticeably weaker than the rest. The songs were all new to me, but there were a couple of really good ones – ‘Dirty Laundry’, in particular, was very catchy, and I’ll probably find myself singing it for days.

Ultimately, the best test for a show like this comes down to how the audience react to it, and I have yet to see one in Cambridge react as enthusiastically. Filled with laughs and toe-tapping tunes, this musical promises a fun, entertaining evening to anyone who goes to see it. 

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