Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang flying onto the Grand Opera House York stage this week.
A show for all generations; bringing nostalgia to those older and excitement to the young. This classic musical, performed by York Stage, truly has something for everyone.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is at the Grand Opera House from Thursday 6 to Saturday 15 April.
Adapted from Ian Fleming’s novel with music and lyrics by the legendary Sherman brothers, the celebrated film takes to the stage. The show shares the adventures of inventor Caractacus Potts, his charming children and their life at home with the eccentric Grandpa Potts.
The family stumbles across the beautiful Truly Scrumptious and she joins them on their adventures: involving a trip to Vulgaria, several lucky escapes and of course a very impressive automobile.
‘Team work makes the dream work’ is a recurring phrase within this musical and never has a truer word been spoken than with the company of York Stage. Choosing such a technically advanced production, filled with prestigious musical numbers, was always going to be an enormous challenge to undertake.
As it was opening night there were a couple of technical problems and timing issues, but overall as a team they provided first-class entertainment. From the dazzling costumes (Charades Theatrical Costume), the elaborate hair and make-up (Phoebe Kilvington and team) and the impressive professional set, they all deserve an enormous amount of recognition for their contributions.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang has a plethora of fantastic characters and I must highlight the two comedic duos who most definitely stole the show; firstly the Vulgarian spies Boris (Jack Hooper) and Goran (James Robert Ball).
Both adults and children were in stitches as they gave Ant and Dec a run for their money for the title of double-act of the year. Every piece of dialogue was perfectly performed and their rendition of ‘Act English’ was my personal act one highlight – that number alone makes you want to plan a second visit!
Vulgaria must produce exceptional comedians as their Baron and Baroness, performed by Alex Papachristou and Jackie Cox, were just that. I especially enjoyed watching them during ‘The Bombi Samba’ number as each was perfectly in character – they knew how to play to an audience and the reaction they received was recognition of this genius.
Carly Morton as the lovely Truly Scrumptious really did have the most delicious vocals and her chemistry with the lovable Caractacus (Ned Sprouston) was wonderful to watch. Those who are familiar with the movie musical, know of the iconic music-box scene and I thought Morton executed this with such ease – she was a natural leading lady.
And lest we forget the wonderful cast of children, both leading and supporting within this production. Jemima (Hope Day alternating with Eady Mensah) and Jeremy (Logan Willstrop alternating with Esther De La Peña) were wonderfully endearing, helping to create a strong foundation as a family and enabling the audience to root for their success throughout.
Credit must go to director Nik Briggs who encouraged every character to shine individually, with the ability to come together to create a strong and united ensemble.
The company under Adam Tomlinson’s excellent musical direction performed every much-loved musical number; from the title song ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ to ‘Me Ol’Bamboo’ and ‘Toot Sweets’. I particularly enjoyed the number ‘The Roses of Success’, as the male ensemble united for a powerful rendition of this song.
Accompanied by Damian Poole’s excellent choreography and a terrific orchestra who just about managed to keep up with such a difficult score, together they created theatrical magic.
The Grand Opera House was positively buzzing with a near sold-out performance for opening night, something York Stage should be extremely proud of. And I was not surprised; whilst this show is a childhood classic, it’s not just Chitty who could be flying over the children’s heads, as there were many adult jokes and suggestive dialogue within the performance too.
I encourage families of all ages in York to grab tickets while you can for this outstanding production, you don’t want to miss the enchanting Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is at the Grand Opera House until Saturday 15 April. Tickets start from £22.65 and are available here.