It’s been 10 years since the famous Chitty spread its wings in Birmingham Hippodrome, and expectations were high as the childhood classic flew back into the theatre for its opening night.
Many – myself included – grew up watching the timeless classic, singing along to the catchy songs and hiding behind a pillow or two from the terrifying Childcatcher – last night at the Hippodrome was no different.
With a cast including some of the country’s finest West End Stars Ian Fleming’s production ozzed laughter, spectacular choreography and of course, spellbinding stage production.
Following in the footsteps of Dick Van Dyke is never going to be an easy task, but it’s something that leading gent Lee Mead achieved with ease. Winner of the BBC series Any Dream Will Do, it’s fair to say Lee succeed in playing the role of Caratacus Potts. His spectacular voice won me over instantly, especially his stunning performance in Hushabye Mountain and his incredible dancing in Me ‘Ol Bamboo.
Taking on the role of Truly Scrumptious was Carrie Hope Fletcher, who earlier in the year left the role of Eponine in Les Miserables at Queen’s Theatre, London to play Truly. Whilst she brought plenty of her sweet personality to Truly, Fletcher also packed a punch and took the role of the leading lady to a whole new level.
Praise must also be given to the children, Jemima and Jeremy Potts played by Darcy Snares and Elliot Morris. The adorable pair took on the roles with both hands and certainly have a bright future ahead of them.
As for the rest of the cast, Phil Jupitus and Claire Sweeney get the thumbs up from me as the villains of the production. Both brought buckets of personality to their roles as the Baron and Baroness, and I have to say that Sweeney really impressed with her dancing in The Bombie Samba.
Nothing however, could prepare me for how terrified I found myself by the Childcatcher. I have to applaud Matt Gillett for his adaptation of the role; as soon as he appeared on stage I found myself curling up in my seat a little from sheer fear – the way the audience should be reacting towards such a sinister character.
For me, the stars of the show were Sam Harrison and Scott Paige, who played the Vulgarian spies Boris and Goran, and of course Grandpa Potts played by Andy Hockley. Their daft senses of humour and jokes were enough to have both adults and children in fits of giggles.
The story behind Chitty is one of great adventure, one that I couldn’t wait to go on with the Potts family once again. The set changes from the family’s windmill home to the Baron’s castle in Vulgaria went smoothly, although there was a slight teething problem with the set at the beginning, which was rapidly rectified.
Projections of scenery onto the set take the audience on every journey with the Potts family; from picnics at the seaside to escaping the Vulgarian ship to save Chitty, which is of course, the star of the show. There’s nothing more magical than seeing Chitty take off above the audience, and it was clear to see how much work had gone into the production to make each flight go as smoothly as possible.
If you’re looking for a feel-good show to start of your weekend or pick you up after a long day in the office, Chitty won’t leave you disappointed.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang runs until Sunday September 18.
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