THERE is a bowler hat, at the start of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which floats mysteriously above the stage.

It does not swing or sway, it does not appear to have any wires attached, and it is definitely a real hat, because as the opening sequence begins, an actor walks on, reaches up and plucks it out of the air.

This is one of a gazillion times during the famous play – which tells the tale of JK Rowling’s boy wizard 19 years after her original books ended – that you find yourself scratching your head in amazement and asking: how on earth did they do that? How did it stay up? How come it didn’t move? Nobody knows….

Glasgow Times: LIFT OFF: The Rawlins children head off on a magical adventure (Picture: Johan Persson)

Well, Jamie Harrison knows, because he is the Glasgow theatremaker, illusionist and director responsible for the magical trickery which made the play such a massive hit.

But he is not telling.

“Nope, cannot reveal a single thing, it’s all top secret and under lock and key,” he grins.

“No chance.”

Now, Glasgow-based Jamie and fellow Vox Motus theatre company founder Candice Edmunds are back on home turf for another magical stage show.

Glasgow Times: Jamie Harrison and Candice Edmunds

Jamie and Candice direct Bedknobs and Broomsticks, a spectacular stage version of the famous Disney movie which has its Scottish premiere at the King’s Theatre in Glasgow tonight (Tuesday, November 2.)

With the original songs by the legendary Sherman Brothers, including Portobello Road and The Age Of Not Believing, the show includes new music and lyrics by Neil Bartram.

Bedknobs and Broomsticks tells the story of the three orphaned Rawlins children, reluctantly evacuated from wartime London to live with the mysterious Eglantine Price (played by Dianne Pilkington).

Upon discovering Eglantine to be a trainee witch, they join forces to search for a secret spell, armed only with an enchanted bedknob, a bewitched broomstick and a magical flying bed.

Glasgow Times: A scene from the new stage version of Disney hit Bedknobs and Broomsticks. Credit: Johan Persson

“It’s a brilliant show, and Candice and I have been very lucky in being able to put our own stamp on it,” says Jamie.

“We have been given free rein by Disney to work with it, and mould it, which is amazing.

“Just about everyone in the UK has a relationship to this film, whether they saw it as a child, or watch it now with their own children when it comes on the telly at Christmas so there’s a real responsibility to honour the original work while we create our own version. It’s very exciting.”

He laughs: “Sometimes I have to pinch myself and ask – is this actually happening? Are we really getting to do this?”

The magical sequences in the show have already received enthusiastic responses from audiences and critics down south and Jamie is excited Glasgow theatregoers will finally get the chance to see them.

“Glasgow audiences are always warm and appreciative so the cast can’t wait to perform in the city,” he says.

 

“I’m really proud of the visuals, which are just incredibly exciting – we did not shy away from doing ambitious things.”

Above all, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, with its heartwarming story and delightful characters, is exactly the kind of show we all need after 18 months of Covid.

“It is a story of family and magic and believing in each other,” says Jamie.

“The cast are amazing – Dianne brings the character of Eglantine Price to life with such joy and sensitivity, it’s very emotional.

“ It’s been a real joy to do it.”

Jamie’s love of the theatre grew out of his talent as a magician. Recovering in hospital after damaging his leg when he was nine, he was inspired by a visiting magician to learn some tricks. That led to a spot on ITV children’s show, Gimme Five, and by the time he was 17, he was performing his magic act in hotels around Asia and Europe.

He was the designer responsible for bringing the Oompah Loompahs to life in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on the London stage, and he conjured up Tinkerbell out of a floating fireball in the National Theatre of Scotland’s version of Peter Pan.

Vox Motus, the company Jamie and Candice founded in Glasgow, is currently touring with Flight, an unusual and highly emotive story of two Afghan child refugees travelling across Europe. The tale is told through miniature models in a revolving diorama, while the audience sit in individual booths listening to actors’ voices via headphones.

“More than ever, this feels like a story that needs to be told, and we are very proud of it,” says Jamie. “It was hard, hard work, but it’s really worth it.

“We’re also working on a couple of other large-scale projects.”

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He adds, apologetically: “But I can’t tell you what they are yet.”

More top secret stuff, it seems. For now, Jamie is working in New York preparing for the return of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child to Broadway.

“It’s really exciting to be back,” he smiles. “I can still remember getting the call about Cursed Child.

“I was actually driving on this quiet rural road somewhere up north, when the director John Tiffany phoned me.”

Jamie laughs: “He said, ‘I’m directing Harry Potter, do you want to do the magic?’ I had stopped the car and was just shouting at the top of my voice, scaring all the sheep in the field.

“It’s a moment I will never, ever forget.”

Bedknobs and Broomsticks is at the King’s Theatre from November 2 to 7.