Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Date 22nd August 2019
Society Brighton Theatre Group
Venue Theatre Royal, Brighton
Type of Production Musical
Director Michael Burnie
Musical Director Carl Greenwood
Choreographer Jodie Michelle
Producer Keith Shepherd

Report

Author: Mark Hall

Most people will know the story of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. It is after all, a classic. The musical version is no different. With a light-hearted first act and a darker second following the introduction of the child catcher. The stage version follows the film closely and has all the recognised musical numbers included.

Brighton Theatre Group are one Brighton’s long-standing companies and have a reputation for putting on an excellent show. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is no exception. In fact, you would be forgiven for stepping out of the Theatre Royal in Brighton and taking a moment to realise you’re not in London’s West End.

From the professional set and costumes, to the real flying car, this was an outstanding production.

Michael Burnie’s direction is natural and allows the script to move along at a fast pace.

The scene changes are slick and, whilst some happen during the scenes, are not distracting in any way. Mark Winrow, Sam Forbes and the stage crew were conspicuously inconspicuous.

The clever use of projections, the second I have seen designed by Steve Gallant, are exceptional and add incredible depth to the staging and set. It is easy to note when sound goes wrong, and easy to forget when you don’t notice it is good. Ben Lawrence managed to expertly provide a balanced sound in the notoriously tricky Theatre Royal.

Jodie Michelle is a name long associated with Brighton Theatre Group and it is evident why. Her choreography, executed by a well drilled cast, was inventive and eye catching. A true variety of numbers lends testament to her ability to choreograph in many different styles. The stand outs for me were Me Ol’ Bamboo and The Bombie Samba.

The orchestra, under the baton of Carl Greenwood, were tight and delivered the excellent score with aplomb.

Of course, all the above can only be brought to life by the cast. And what a cast it was. From a fabulous ensemble to the well behaved (and well received) canines, it was clear, everyone on stage deserved to be there.

Rob Piatt as Caractacus Potts delivered a vocally demanding performance with ease. His genteel manner was heartwarming. Rob paired brilliantly with Hannah Spicer-Williams as Truly Scrumptious, easily his equal in both vocal and stage presence. 

James Kiley and Florence Hett played the roles of Jeremy and Jemima respectively. BTG have a strong youth group and, these two youngsters are prime examples. Their dialogue and singing was impeccable and the chemistry between the entire Potts family was electric. Steve Emery gave a wonderful portrayal of Grandpa Potts. 

Tim Ingram who played both Baron Bombust and Lord Scrumptious, played both to perfection. His long-suffering wife, Baroness Bombust, played by Emma Lindfield, was “vonderful”. 

Jamie Collins and Graeme Muncer as Goran and Boris were hilarious throughout. Their comic timing and ad libbing had me in stitches every time they appeared on stage. 

Paul Charlton gave a warm and calming performance as the Toy Maker. He came across as affectionate and caring. 

Hayden Cheyne was excellent as the Child Catcher. Truly sinister in every way and he sent shivers down my spine every time he appeared. 

This was an outstanding production and every single person involved should be proud. The standing ovation received during the bows was certainly warranted. This really was truly scrumptious.