Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is one of those films that I know about (and can sing a couple of songs from!) but have never actually seen. I always remember it being on the telly over half term when I was younger, a real classic about a car but that’s as far as my Chitty knowledge went, so when we sat down to watch the film brought to life on stage at The Regent last night I had no idea what to expect. With a star-studded cast and a lot of media buzz around it I had a feeling we were in for a good night, but I didn’t realise just how good it was going to be!
For those who aren’t aware of the story, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang follows Caractacus Pots (played by Jason Manford) and his children, a lovable mother-less family who work hard and dream big. The Potts children fall in love with an old race car and set about trying to raise 30 Shillings to buy the car and save it from the junkyard. Over in the made up land of Vulgaria, Baron Bomburst hatches a plan to get his hands on the same car, a plan that becomes even more desperate when he finds out that this car has been refurbished…with some incredible extras!
Chitty’s set is pretty darn clever with projections, huge scene changes and of course – the car itself! It’s colourful, it’s professional and it’s impressive, a real sight to see, and the costumes are fabulous too for all the cast. There are big dance numbers, loads of laughs and the whole thing just runs so nicely bringing in all the big songs and scenes we’re used to. The kiddies in the audience were giggling as were the adults – Baron Bomburst’s spies (Sam Harrison and Scott Paige) were hilarious and gave the piece a wonderful panto feel. I’m not ashamed to say there were gasps of horror and a little tear at the end from me – a good old ‘give you goosebumps it’s so heart-warmingly good’ production!
Having not seen Jason Manford in any other roles than his stand up I was really impressed – that man can sing! He was professional, lovable and funny all the way through and really made the show for me. Phil Jupitus as Baron Bomburst was also hilarious with deadpan moments and great physicality – again showing that comedians can hold their own in the world of musicals. Martin Kemp was delightfully spooky as The Childcatcher (loved the shadow effects for this one) and the children did so well too, go team Purple aka Henry Kent and Lucy Sherman.
This is a real feel good classic musical and had heads bopping along all the way through – a standing ovation at the end summed up the audiences feelings and it’s just a great night out for all the family. As for whether the car actually flies…you’ll have to head down to the theatre and find out for yourself, my lips are sealed!