Imagine a world where one of the most famous spy novelists in the world creates a much loved children’s novel, which then goes on to star one of Hollywood’s greatest experts in the art of the cockney accent.
Imagining it? Well, if you’re still not 100% sure of what I’m talking about, it’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and since 2002 it’s been selling out as a musical all over the place, and now it’s taking a pitstop at Wales Millennium Centre till 21st August 2016.
With a cast that includes some of musical theatre’s best known names – headed by former Joseph and the amazing Technicolor dreamcoat lead, Lee Mead as Caractacus Potts, Carrie Hope Fletcher as Truly Scrumptious (who actually played Jemima in the original London production in 2002), also Shaun Williiamson & Claire Sweeney playing the Bomburst’s.
It’s a story that doesn’t need much explaining, but if you’ve never seen the film before, here’s what the website says…
“Can the loveable but whacky inventor, Potts, along with his two children and the gorgeous Truly Scrumptious outwit the bombastic Baron Bomburst who has decreed that all children be banished from his kingdom? What happens when the children are caught and imprisoned with the other youngsters by the evil Child Catcher? Will it all end happily-ever-after? Well, of course it will!”.
Quite possibly one of popular cultures most famous villains is the child catcher, but as a footnote, he wasn’t in the original Ian Fleming book. He was introduced via the screenplay for the movie by Roald Dahl. Next time you watch the film, it doesn’t take much to compare the likes of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or The BFG to the film. You could be one of the generation for that the child catcher remains a terrifying reminder of your youngers days – this was certainly the case for the woman sat in front of me in the stalls. Every time the CC appeared, she couldn’t watch the stage – and was slightly mocked by the children she was with, bless.
The audio and visuals of the show is amazing. Chitty herself (cars are always female – why?), is one of the most expensive props created, £750,000 being the figure being muted. And that’s what pretty much steals the show – sorry human performers but you know it too.
Lee Mead – now we know the boy can sing, and he dances pretty blooming good too. The old bamboo is an old school Hollywood dance extravaganza which transfers to the stage with so much ease. It’s a simple thing to forget that it’s been 9 years since Joseph as his performance belies someone with many more years experience.
Carrie Hope Fletcher, who you’ll know as being the younger sister of Tom from Mcfly, is terrific. From the moment she rides onto stage to the when she’s a music box – really, truly, she’s brilliant.
Shaun and Claire are pure Vulgar..ians, and Andy Hockey (he’s from Pontypridd you know) and Matt Gillett (not from Ponty), both have show-stealing moments. Andy’s Granpa dancing is ace, and Matt, well, Matt as the child catcher…. See the previous comment.
If you want a proper evening out for all the family, you won’t go far wrong with this. The Sherman Brothers soundtrack will be buzzing around your brain for many an hour after you leave the Wales Millennium Centre. Yes, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, we love you.
For more information, visit http://www.wmc.org.uk/
Photos from http://www.chittythemusical.co.uk/