REVIEW: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Theatre Royal, Newcastle, Until June 12
The magical musical show has as infectious happiness that takes in the whole theatre.
The story is one that, for most people, has been around their entire lives.
Whether you read the book by James Bond author Ian Fleming or loved the 1968 film starring Dick Van Dyke, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang has always been there.
It’s probably one of the first films I ever saw, and I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve seen it since. What I can tell you is how many times I’ve seen it on stage – once, and that’s nowhere near enough. I want to go again right now.
Seeing the famous story brought to life before my eyes was a truly magical experience. I loved every second of it – it just made me so happy.
It follows inventor Caractacus Potts (Lee Mead) and his young children Jeremy (Louie Green) and Jemima (Darcy Snares), who rescue an old Grand Prix-winning race car from the scrap heap.
The special car is also sought after by Baron Bomburst (Shaun Williamson), and along with his wife Baroness Bomburst (Michelle Collins), he hires spies to travel to England and bring it back to Vulgaria.
Mead is wonderful in the show. He plays the part of the doting dad brilliantly and the on-stage relationship between him and the children is adorable.
His voice is stunning and his renditions of famous songs You Two, Hushabye Mountain and the title track are brilliant. You’ll be dying to join in. His boundless energy shines during numbers like Me Ol’ Bamboo and Toot Sweets.
Carrie Hope Fletcher is great too as the feisty and independent Truly Scrumptious, who is won over by the family. Her performance of Doll on a Music Box was gorgeous and she really looked the part as she twirled around on the spot.
Williamson’s toy-obsessed Baron and Collins’ child-hating Baroness work wonderfully together as the villains of the piece, but no one is more terrifying than the Childcatcher (Matt Gillett). His menacing demeanour was enough to give you nightmares, and the sinister shadows that crept onto the stage before he appeared looked great. The panto-style boos he was given by the crowd during the finale told you what a great job he did.
Andy Hockley’s Grandpa Potts was instantly lovable and his performance of Posh opposite the kids was fantastic.
The youngsters of the cast were sensational. They’re so involved in the story and with quite complex choreography to follow, they did an impeccable job. Their rendition of Truly Scrumptious was adorable.
Vulgarian spies Goran (Scott Paige) and Boris (Sam Harrison) were a real stand out in the show for me. The characters were hilarious on two levels – with their silliness making the kids chuckle and tongue-in-cheek rude gags thrown in for the adults.
The pair had me in stitches as they donned questionable disguises to follow Caractacus around and their performance of Act English was side-splitting.
This huge production is bold and colourful. The costumes are perfectly designed for each of the characters and the set is fantastic, even down to Caractacus’ inventions, from his breakfast making machine to the family’s pet robot dog, and the moment the car takes flight is breath-taking. It’s what everyone is waiting for and the moment was met with gasps and cheers of delight.
You’re bound to leave the theatre with a huge smile on your face.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is at the Theatre Royal until Sunday, June 12. Click here to book tickets.