Photos – Michael Dare
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, everybody’s fine four fendered friend, has finally flown into Brisbane’s Lyric Theatre and it’s guaranteed to be the number one ‘fantasmagorical’ show to take the whole family to this summer. Regardless of how well you know this much loved children’s story by Ian Fleming that became a classic Disney film, the charm and whimsy of the characters and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang herself will win young and old over.
Very little disappoints in this production. Strong and endearing performances are given by all the cast. However, the antics of the Vulgarian spies Goran (George Kapiniaris) and Boris (Todd Goddard) prove firm favourites with the audience. David Hobson, as the dotting dad and enigmatic inventor Caractacus Potts, is wonderful. He swoons through Hushabye Mountain and his leaping, dancing and bamboo twirling skills in Me Ol’bamboo, alongside the male half of the ensemble, is dynamic and thoroughly entertaining. Rachael Beck, as the graceful, sensible and sweet Truly Scrumptious, shines. While she commands the stage in all her scenes she never steals the spotlight. Beside the Potts’ children Jeremy and Jemima in the song Truly Scrumptious, she is genuinely warm and gorgeous as she supports the younger cast members. Beck’s performance in Doll on a Music Box is flawless and mesmerising. Jennifer Vuletic, as the eccentric Baroness Bomburst, gives a devilishly funny physical and vocal performance in this role. However, Shane Bourne as Baron Bomburst plays a fancy dressed and prancing teddy bear holding character but never fully realises the role. His accent is inconsistent and while he gives an okay performance his musical theatre talents don’t hold up beside the rest of this stellar cast. The opening night child performers, Jayden McGinlay as Jeremy and Emma Cobb as Jemima, are perfect in their roles and are a delight to watch in all of their scenes. Tyler Coppin is The Child Catcher and he owns the role. He is so convincing as the evil ‘kiddie-winkie’ abductor that my 5 year old son was glaring at him every time he set foot on the stage and the audience lovingly booed him in a show of applause and as an affirmative testament to acting skills.
The ensemble and lost children scenes are highly entertaining song and dance numbers that, for the most part, mirror the movie. Toot Sweet, Me Ol’bamboo and the Bombie Samba are well executed, fun and infectious pieces. The song Teamwork is wonderful and the children from the ensemble, once again, hold their own alongside their adult performers. Director Roger Hodgman, choreographer Dana Jolly and musical director Peter Casey have honoured the film interpretation of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang while also making the stage production its own unique and equally adorable version.
Magnificent staging and lighting effects complete and add to the splendour of the production. Mr Potts’ invention set pieces were whacky and spectacular looking contraptions. There are many lovely moments that surprise and keep you guessing. The end of Toot Sweet and when Chitty Chitty Bang Bang drives off after her make over should be noted. Most especially and discernibly the favourite scene is when Chitty Chitty Bang Bang takes to the skies. At the end of Act 1, if you know the story well, you sit with eager anticipation waiting for the car to fly. Witnessing it within that wonderful make-believe space behind the proscenium arch is a memorable moment in the production, which is enhanced by the glorious night time sky lighting that fills that stage.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang the stage musical is a glorious show. For those who have fond memories of the story attached to their childhood it will instil nostalgia for your youth, a time of freedom, play and make-believe. For those younger members of the audience whose parents have shared the magical story or unforgettable Richard Sherman and Robert Sherman music and lyrics, they’ll be delighted and thrilled from the very first scene right through to final curtain. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang on at Brisbane’s Lyric Theatre QPAC is a not to be missed musical for the whole family this Christmas holidays.
Tim Lawson and the Queensland Performing Arts Centre present
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Director Roger Hodgman
Venue: Lyric Theatre | QPAC, South Bank, Brisbane
Dates: 19 November – 22 December 2013
Bookings: qpac.com.au | 136 246