Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
23rd November 2018
Starlight Theatre Productions
Tyne Theatre, Newcastle upon Tyne
Type of Production
Author: Michael L. Avery
Everybody who has seen the film of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, wonders how the car, the very centre of the film, can possibly be recreated on stage by anything other than a professional company. Well, we had to wait a little while but Starlight definitely pulled it off. The car is a magnificently large creation which, due to a little technical wizardry, floats on water and rears up and takes to the skies.
Inventor/father, Caractacus Potts, was played by Ian Cairns this evening. Being British, he got the accent right (compared to the film’s Dick Van Dyke) and sang, danced and acted his way impressively through numerous musical numbers. He was ably partnered by Kim Wilde, as Truly Scrumptious, who nicely lived up to her character’s name. An attractive couple who were particularly memorable in the Doll on a Music Box number. Caractacus’ children, Jeremy and Jemima, were very well played this evening by Mac Toal and Katie Ellis. They both have a bright future onstage, if they wish to pursue it. Early on, they got the audience on side when they performed You Two with Ian. A different cast played these parts at alternate shows so, unfortunately, I missed those performances.
Alan Davison completes the family, as Grandpa. As ever, he fits his part perfectly, with just a touch of Lionel Jeffries’ performance from the film. The pith helmet helped!
Family harmony is disrupted by incompetent spies, Doris and Goran (Melanie King and David Rawlings), whose costumes and characters become increasingly eccentric, as the action proceeds. Their boss. Baron Bombast (Andrew Fearon), has ordered them to steal the car. Andrew's Baron is a larger than life character and he forms an entertaining double act with his Baroness, Katie Howes.
Said Baroness, having a child phobia, obviously needs a Childcatcher. Andy Oliver makes this standout part his own as he skulks around, somewhat incompetently, in his magnificently sinister costume and make up, plying his trade. He does, however, capture Jeremy and Jemima. Alan Tomkins was the more child friendly Toymaker.
There were many pleasant but unfamiliar (to me) tunes throughout, apart from the title song and Truly Scrumptious. The title number has the audience clapping along on every available occasion, emphasising the pantomime feel and child-friendly nature of the show. The entire company enjoyed themselves in the number Toot Sweets, in the sweet factory, and the boys of the chorus made an impressive job of the rather intricate Me Ol’ Bamboo. The children’s chorus came into their own, after rescue from the dungeons of the Baron’s castle, and enthusiastically assisted in the denouement.
A big, impressive production of a surprisingly popular show, playing to a very happy full house.
Having seen the alternative 'Truly' (Nikki Cunningham), 'Caractacus' (James Foster) and children 'Jeremy' (Ashen Hazel) and 'Jemima' (Polly Dowling) may I add to Michael's report by saying the Thursday evening team I saw were a joy to behold - James sang and acted well, looked the part, and was believeable as the doting father and inventor. He was supported with consumate ease by Nikki who was 'truly' wonderful in her role and every inch the 'Truly' we expect with her rich vocals, movement and ease on stage.
The two children, Ashen and Polly, were a joy to behold, looked confident in their stagework and spoke and sang well in their roles
Well done all....