Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
- Kelly Apter
- 10 October 2016
Well-loved family film proves it's just as scrumptious on stage
For a film from the late 1960s to still hold a broad appeal today, it's got to be doing something right. And for a show to replicate that film on stage and not disappoint, it's got to be doing a whole lot of things right, too.
Much of the appeal of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang can be attributed to the Sherman brothers, whose talent for film scores knew no bounds (Mary Poppins, Jungle Book the list goes on). Here, their lyrics may feel a little dated (Chitty is set around 1910, so the cultural references are a bit dusty) but it's hard to argue with the tenderness of 'Hushabye Mountain', the familial love of 'You Two' and the sheer joyfulness of 'Me Ol' Bamboo' and the title track.
All of which means Chitty rises or falls on its vocalists which, happily, is of no concern here. Jason Manford may be best known for his quick wit, but when he opens his mouth to sing, it's a thing of beauty. Cast alongside him as Truly Scrumptious is, wisely, not another big-name star but fully fledged musical theatre actor Charlotte Wakefield, who is pure of voice and big of heart.
Elsewhere other key boxes are ticked when the car 'flies', digital technology gives us the impression it's floating, and there's plenty of humour courtesy of the Baron's ridiculous henchmen Boris and Goran, and gorgeous old Grandpa Potts.
Add to that two adorable children, suitably unpleasant turns from Claire Sweeney and Phill Jupitus as the Baron and Baroness, and Jos Vantyler as a deliciously creepy Childcatcher (who you're never too old to be unnerved by) and Chitty is a family hit all over again.
Seen at Edinburgh Festival Theatre.