On the 27th of May I had the ‘Truly Scrumptious’ opportunity to watch Ian Flemming’s Chitty, Chitty Bang Bang directed by James Brining in conjunction with West Yorkshire Playhouse at the Theatre Royal.
To be openly honest, I was worried at first, because I thought I might be just that bit too old to watch this fun musical. HOWEVER, I was happily relieved when I walked into the theatre side by side with an audience full of young and old eager punters.
This familiar story follows the Potts family, which includes eccentric inventor Caractacus Potts (Lee Mead), his father Grandpa Potts (Andy Hockley) and his two children, Jeremy and Jemima Potts (played by talented young actors Henry Kent and Lucy Sherman). It starts with the children eagerly begging their father to buy an old race-car that they consider their favourite plaything, and before long Caractacus is desperately trying to earn enough money to buy it by selling his wacky inventions.
Lee Mead had a great paternal connection with the two Potts children, and between them they created a really loveable family dynamic, which the audience’s heart soon fell for. A great addition to this family was also the talented actor and singer Carrie Hope Fletcher, who played the sweet Truly Scrumptious. Carrie brought a brilliant balance to the family, and had this kind of stabilising effect which made the unusual mob really enjoyable to watch.
Meanwhile, the comical duo of Goran and Boris (played by Scott Paige and Sam Harrison) brought nosy prying to a whole new level with their hilarious rendition of being British. And Matt Gillett acted out a truly spine-tingling Childcatcher that brought fear into every child’s heart (including mine). On the other side of things, you had Michelle Collins and Shaun Williamson who created roars of laughter in their roles of the Baroness and Baron Bomburst, and between them they created an odd, high-powered couple that was quite irresistible.
So all in all, Brining’s take on this classic was fun, catchy and a bonanza of bright colours. It was also jam packed with catchy tunes that had the whole audience singing and clapping and the scenery was so carefully constructed that it was quite transportative.
Lights were astutely deployed by the excellent Tim Mitchell and videos were ingeniously designed by Simon Wainwright to take the audience on a voyage through many different domestic settings and countries. Then a live orchestra directed by Andrew Hilton also really plunged the audience beautifully into a magical, musical world of 1914s Britain.
Equally, Stephen Mear’s choreography was sharp and creative throughout, and when clothed in Simon Higlett’s remarkably colourful costumes, the magical performance really was complete. The show was fit for all ages, and will make a great pick-me-up especially for all those who a finally just finishing revising for exams, so it comes highly recommended! The show is currently on tour, and you can click here to find out where you can see it next.