Albert Broccoli purchased the film rights to Ian Fleming’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the same time that he and Harry Saltzman purchased the film rights to Fleming’s series of James Bond novels. With such foresight it seems that in 1968 Mr Broccolli saw an opportunity to capitalize on the success of Disney’s Mary Poppins four years earlier (1964). Once again a children’s story about family, fantasy and flight (this time a car instead of a nanny) was made into a family movie musical. Once again Dick Van Dyke was the male lead and in place of Julie Andrews we have Sally Ann Howes (who followed Julie Andrews into the role of Eliza Doolittle on Broadway in 1958). To add to the similarity the songs for the film were written by the Poppins team of Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman. The film version of Chitty… received mixed reviews, but missed out on the acclaim bestowed upon Mary Poppins.

So now we have a stage musical version of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. If you have small children and would like to take them to see a musical, this is your opportunity. All the inventions of Caractacus Potts are there to be seen including his breakfast machine, candy making machine and of course Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. While the children (young and old) may be most impressed with the flying car as star of this Australian production my hat goes off to the cast. This is a golden opportunity to expose your children to the marvellous voices of David Hobson (Caractacus Potts) and Rachael Beck (Truly Scrumptious) and the comic acting of Alan Brough (Baron Bomburst), Jennifer Vuletic (Baroness Bomburst), Peter Carroll (Grandpa Potts), George Kapiniaris and Todd Goddard (Goran and Boris). Tyler Coppin is the evil (be sure to hiss) Childcatcher (played by Sir Robert Helpmann in the film) and Philip Gould is the Toymaker.

Just as the previous show to play the stage of Her Majesty’s was for adults (Stephen Sondheim’s A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum), this one is for kids. The best way to enjoy Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is take someone under 10 with you to see it.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – adapted for the stage by Jeremy Sams and Ray Roderick based on the MGM Motion Picture. Music and lyrics by Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman. Her Majesty’s Theatre – Melbourne, from 30 January 2013.

Cast: David Hobson, Rachael Beck, Alan Brough, Jennifer Vuletic, George Kapiniaris, Peter Carroll, Todd Goddard, Tyler Coppin, Philip Gould, Beau Woodbridge, Lucille Le Meledo Creative: Director – Roger Hodgeman; Musical Director – Peter Casey; Choreographer – Dana Jolly; Scenic and Costume Designer – Anthony Ward; Lighting Designer – Matt Scott; Producer – Tim Lawson, TML Enterprises

© Henry Sachwald 2013

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