I’M detecting a trend here: The last two musicals I’ve seen have been about the power of female friendships and the strength of that bond to overcome pretty much anything.

Pretty positive stuff eh? But here’s the thing - both Wicked and The Witches of Eastwick make that power ‘magical’ and those strong women are ‘witches’.

Hey, Mr Producer, it’s the 21st Century! Strong women are not from the pages of a fairytale, or the legends of Pendle Hill, and nor are they something to be feared - a point most definitely proven by Vicki Stott, Sophie Lord and Leanne Tempest as Alexandra, Suki and Jane.

These three ‘witches’ make a wish for a devilishly handsome - among other things - man, under a storm of thunder, lightening and martinis. And, as the saying goes: “Speak of the devil and he shall appear”.

Each of them created an excellent, defined character, bringing out their similarities and diffences, all set against their union as outcasts from Eastwick’s prissy community. Above all, their loving friendship - with plenty of sex appeal and sass - came across, and the blend of their voices in harmony was beautiful. Three very brave performances on all counts!

The devil on their backs (and fronts) is Darryl Van Horne, played by Ian Bennett. He commands the stage with so much power that his spells over Eastwick’s residents easily transcend the fourth wall to entrap the audience too. ‘My God’, he’s so wickedly bad that he’s exceptionally good.

Joanne Gill as Felicia and Geoff Baron as husband Clyde were a great double act. Her cartoon character-like portrayal as her perfect life unravelled was brilliant alongside the downtrodden husband. And at the other end of the relationship spectrum were teenage sweethearts Jenny Gill and Adam Whittle who also gave great performances under the spell of Van Horne.

An ensemble of chattering townsfolk gave an almost Greek chorus-like commentary on the action, gossiping over the washing lines (a personal highlight) and in time realising the three women they had feared and despised were one of them.

Occassionally the sound mix between the fantastic band and singers saw the lyrics overpowered, and we missed some of the storytelling as a result, which is especially crucial with a less familiar musical. Upping the singers’ microphones a notch or two would easily remedy this.

Scene changes were super quick and slick, with some clever use of the cast to disguise some of these moments, and the costumes were great - so suited to each character and the Eastwick setting. And the special effects helped to set the performances on fire.

Burnley Light Opera Society’s production of The Witches Of Eastwick might not be to everyone’s tastes: There’s a degree of nudity, bad language and a lot of sexual references. That said, I loved it.

A magical slick, smart staging of a modern musical, to appeal to a modern audience.

  • The Witches Of Eastwick, Burnley Mechanics, until Saturday, 7.30pm. Tickets from 01282 664400.