Witches hubble and bubble

The musical of The Witches of Eastwick has its origins in John Updike's 1984 novel, coloured by the 1987 film that cast Jack Nicholson as the devilish Darryl Van Horne, conjured up by three divorced women who want more from life and who find it via witchcraft.

In this version, sculptor Alex (Louiza Blomfield), music teacher Jane (Kelly Roberts) and newspaper worker Sukie (Vanessa de Jager), wishing to break out of the constraints of conservative small town Eastwick, get into some serious magic to find a man more inspiring than those that can be found locally. The result is the mysterious Darryl Van Horne (Jarrad West) who moves into the requisite mysterious local mansion Lenox House and proceeds spectacularly to seduce all three.

A scene from Supa Productions' <i>The Witches of Eastwick</i>.
A scene from Supa Productions' The Witches of Eastwick

The town, egged on by local do-gooder Felicia (Michelle Klemke), disapproves mightily but the three women are enjoying Darryl's attentions too much to worry. It's only when Felicia attempts to split up the wholly innocent romance between her daughter Jennifer (Laura Dawson) and Alex's son Michael (Alexander Clubb) that the idyll grinds to a halt.

This production mostly makes the right decisions about what is really a rather watered down version of a witchcraft story, American style. There's a bit of darkness and retribution, especially in the awful marriage of Clyde (Dennis Bittisnitch) and Felicia, and murder does happen, but this version of the story concentrates on creating a musical somewhat in the style of Little Shop of Horrors, not Sweeny Todd. The design keeps the look either crisp for the small-minded town or lush for the devil and his seductions, aided by a marvellous LED screen upstage. Only the scene change blackouts slow down the action.

The Witches of Eastwick, from left,  Louiza Bloomfield (Alex), Kelly Roberts (Jane), and Vanessa de Jager (Sukie).
The Witches of Eastwick, from left, Louiza Bloomfield (Alex), Kelly Roberts (Jane), and Vanessa de Jager (Sukie). 

It's a long evening in Eastwick but West clearly revels in the showy role of Darryl and the three women are also very well cast indeed. De Jager does superb work with Sukie's transition from being unable to finish a sentence to being unable to stop the words tumbling out in song.

Roberts shows clearly a musician who learns to let go, even if in the process everything, including her cello, takes to the air. And Blomfield gives Alex strong warmth as she discovers her own worth and power, especially in her second act solo, Another Night At Darryl's.

Why the show also conjures up a nicely taciturn servant called Fidel (Rithy Lim) for Darryl and a strange Little Girl (Georgia Forster) who comments on events in song is dramatically a little unclear but Forster in particular creates an uncanny presence.

You might not go out humming the tunes, but like opening night's audience you might find it all rollicking enough to be diverting.