Title: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Cast: Lee Mead, Carrie Hope Fletcher, Michelle Collins, Shaun Williamson, Andy Hockley, Scott Paige, Sam Harrison, Ewen Cummins, Matt Gillet
Director: James Brining
Venue: Plymouth Theatre Royal/Touring Production.
Over the last couple of years, I’ve seen productions of West End shows being performed either in London or in local venues and, without fail, I still get the jolt of excitement when I can come home with a glossy show programme. I love musical theatre, and enjoy spending my hard-earned money on tickets.
So when it was announced that the much-loved and highly-praised West End show of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang! was touring around the UK, I knew I had to get tickets. Lucky for me, Chitty landed in Plymouth’s Theatre Royal for a week, so I took the day off from work, and equipped with a vast love for the songs and story, I sat in the theatre and watched as the fantasmagorical musical transported back to my childhood.
Adapted from Ian Fleming’s original story, and with award-winning lyrics from the Sherman Brothers, this musical really hit a soft spot for me. Ever since obsessively watching the film as a child, and wishing to be Truly Scrumptious, I knew that this production would definitely tug on the heartstrings.
Starring Lee Mead (Joseph and the Technicolour Dream coat and Casualty) along with Carrie Hope Fletcher (Les Miserable and War of the Worlds) as Caractacus Potts and Truly Scrumptious respectively, this power duo really had the voices and the on-stage chemistry to pull these characters off well. I particularly loved Carrie’s rendition of ‘Doll on a Music Box’, in which she had all the poise and voice of a real stage actress, and I must admit, I completely fell apart at Mead’s soulful version of ‘Hushabye Mountain’. The rest of the cast also took to their parts incredibly well. Slapstick duo of Sam Harrison and Scott Paige as the Vulgarian spies, Goran and Boris really had the best one-liners in the play, and provided a light and suitable relief, whilst Matt Gillet’s Childcatcher really sent chills up my spine. Ex-Eastenders stars Michelle Collins and Shaun Williamson also took the parts of Baroness and Baron Bomburst well, and did a rousing version of ‘Chu-Chi Face’.
The music and the choreography was also very diverse and fitting, with a particular highlight being Mead dancing in the ‘Me Ol’ Bamboo’, I felt the dancing never took any shine or attention from the actors, but only enhanced the viewing pleasure.
But one thing that really made me go ‘Wow’ was the spectacular use of special effects designed by Simon Wainwright. The use of an actual car, along with the use of video screens was a stroke of genius, as we watched Chitty ‘fly’, ‘swim’ and ‘dive’ over Beachy Head. The video projections were also used well to illustrate the car’s original Grand Prix glory days, and gives us a good backstory into the car’s history.
This production really took my breath away for how beautifully it was directed. It was exciting, whimsical, sad at points, hilarious at others, and with a cast that really delivered on those famous songs, it is a family favourite show that any person of any age would enjoy to see.
I’d definitely recommend it.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is still touring now. Links to available dates and venues are below.