Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Also see John's review of A Raisin in the Sun
Broadway Across America - Ft. Lauderdale presents that most fantasmagorical stage musical in the history of everything, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Based on a story by Ian Fleming, the original United Artists motion picture Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was released in 1968 and quickly became an endearing family classic. With music and lyrics by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman, it was adapted for the stage by Jeremy Sams. The Broadway production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang opened on April 28, 2005 and received five Tony award Nominations, ten Outer Critics Circle Award Nominations and four Drama Desk Nominations. This Ft. Lauderdale production marks the debut of the show's first national tour in the US.
Set in England, the story of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang centers on the family of imaginative inventor and single father Caractacus Potts. He and his two children, Jeremy and Jemima, meet a lovely woman named Truly Scrumptious whom the children believe will make a perfect wife for their widowed father. The Potts family decides to rescue and restore a colorful old car and, in order to buy it, Caractacus sells a candy invention to Truly's father who owns a candy factory. Caractacus does more than restore the car, however; he turns it into something magical.
Meanwhile, in far away Vulgaria, the toy-loving Baron and his child-hating Baroness send two henchmen to England to retrieve the very same car which once was a prize winning race car. In their frenzy to find it, the henchmen accidentally kidnap Caractacus' father, Grandpa Potts, and take him back to Vulgaria. Truly, Caractacus and the children set out to rescue Grandpa Potts in their newly christened car, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
The stage adaptation has all the charm of the famous film version. The car is the star of the show as is it floats and flies smoothly about the stage. Fun and fantasy fill the show, along with sweet and singable tunes like "Hushabye Mountain," "Toot Sweets," "Me Ol' Bamboo," "Truly Scrumptious" and the title song. This feel good show is colorful and energetic fun for the whole family.
Steve Wilson is indeed reminiscent of the film's Caractacus, lanky Dick Van Dyke. Kelly McCormick is sweet as Truly Scrumptious, though her British accent is better when she sings than when she speaks. While both children are good, Aly Brier is just sensational as Jemimaflawlessly on every cue. Dick Decareau is cuddly as the quirky Grandpa Potts.
Richard G. Rodgers is rather bland as The Toymaker, but Oliver Wadsworth is ultimately creepy as The Childcatcher. Elizabeth Ward Land and George Dvorsky are the couple you love to hate as the Baron and Baroness, and the costuming is especially good for the Baroness. Together they make the comic most of the song "Chu-Chi Face." The henchmen, Boris and Goran, are played by Dirk Lumbard and Scott Cote in true vaudevillian camp. The writing of the characters in this style is an odd choice that feels strangely American. Delivery straight out to audience members also breaks the fourth wall of the fantasy that has been so carefully woven. A minor technical glitch on the night attended was a far too lengthy set change going into the candy factory scene.
The show's choreography is at its best in the ensemble number "Me Ol' Bamboo." The ensemble sings and dances well throughout the production, and you will be sure to leave the theatre humming at least one of the tunes.
This debut of the national tour of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is presented by Big League Productions, Inc. by arrangement with Dana Broccoli, Barbara Broccoli, Michael G. Wilson, Frederick Zollo, Nicholas Paleologos, Jeffrey Sine, Harvey Weinstein, East of Doheny Theatricals, Michael Rose Limited and MGM On Stage. For more information on the tour you may go to www.chittyontour.com.
Broadway Across America is also presented in conjunction with the Florida Theatrical Association, which is a non-profit, civic organization with a volunteer board of trustees established to ensure the continued presentation of quality national touring Broadway productions in the state of Florida. Broadway Across America is dedicated to creating memorable and accessible theatrical experiences for all guests, selling over five million tickets to first rate Broadway shows, family productions and other live theatrical events in over 40 North American cities each year. For more information or to purchase tickets through an authorized agent, please visit www.BroadwayAcrossAmerica.com.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is scheduled ran November 18th - 30th, 2008 at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. For tickets and/or information on the many diverse offering of the Broward center for the Performing Arts you may contact them at 954-462-0222 or on line at www.browardcenter.org. Tickets are also available in person through Ticketmaster by phone at 954-523-3309 in Broward County, in person at Ticketmaster outlets, or online at www.ticketmaster.com.
The actors and stage managers in this production are members of Actor's Equity Association, the union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.