Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
by Ian Fleming, adapted by Jeremy Sams,
Snape Maltings, until July 9, 2023
It’s an iconic car, a classic book with a heartwarming story and now it’s a spectacular stage musical which certainly delivers that wow factor as the show’s mechanical star takes to the skies in pursuit of a kidnapped grandfather trapped inside a potting shed.
This dazzling production provides a fitting celebration for the 80th anniversary of one of the region’s leading young theatre companies, The Co-op Juniors.
It’s a show jam-packed with catchy songs, which you will know from the film, engaging performances from an extremely talented young cast and unfussy, well-paced staging, from designer/director Oliver Brett.
The evening whips along, keeping audiences young and old spellbound as they are introduced to the eccentric inventor Caractacus Potts, his two children Jemima and Jeremy, the dotty grandfather, the feisty motorbike riding Truly Scrumptious as well as the villainous Baron Bomburst and his scheming wife.
As with any Co-op Juniors production there are some spectacular set-pieces and the two stand-outs in Chitty Chitty, Bang Bang are the The Old Bamboo, set in a travelling fairground, and Toot Sweet, set in a confectionary factory. The skill, precision and the inventiveness on display in the dance routines is awe-inspiring.
But, the most impressive aspect of this show is the care and thought which has clearly gone into the development of the characters. Everyone had their own personality on stage – even the two mustachioed, identically-dressed spies, played with great aplomb by Amelia Ramos and Chloe Calvesbert. They had distinct identities which shone through every disguise.
Samuel Finan and Chloe Walker held centre-stage as Caractacus Potts and Truly Scrumptious while Halo-Eden Browne and Mia Brewer threatened to steal the spotlight as Caractacus’ adventurous children.
Oscar Munday not only captured the spirit of Lionel Jefferies as the Old Soldier Grandfather, he also managed to sound like him while Jack Davis and Marnie Sadd extracted every piece of comedy available out of their roles as the evil Baron and Baroness who just don’t like children.
Finally mention must be made of Ben George as the limber, pointy-nosed Childcatcher and Harry Butcher as the protective Toymaker.
It’s a show filled with spectacle and great heart. See it if you can.