Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

"A 'fantasmigorical' evening"

As soon as the overture started, a wave of nostalgia washed over me with happy memories of watching the original 1968 film starring Dick Van Dyke as inventor Caractacus Potts who created the most ‘fantasmigorical’ flying car and named it Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.  Thankfully the performers from the Bilston Operatic Company took me on an equally joyous journey as they treated the whole audience to a first-class performance at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre.

First things first, even though this is amateur theatre, there had clearly been no expense spared when it came to set, costume and the car itself, which was a replica of the original car from the film.  It was a real treat to see how well this production was staged from start to finish.  The band under the Musical Direction of Gareth Howard were able to provide a wonderful sound delivering all the classic tunes by Sherman and Sherman that we all know and love exceptionally well.

Now to the cast.  Caractacus Potts is played by Alec White who was able to deliver a polished performance and stood out during his time playing the floppy rag doll towards the end of the show.  The mannerisms and movement around the stage was fantastic and echoed Dick Van Dyke’s performance in the film.  White was also able to command the musical moments, especially during ‘Hushabye Mountain’.  Truly Scrumptious is played by Issy Checketts who again was confident in her performance and gave a wonderful vocal performance during ‘Doll on a Music Box’.  The two very talented child performers for the evening were Oliver Rudge as Jeremy and Lara Maguire as Jemima.  They were clearly very well-rehearsed and worked well together as the brother and sister duo.  Again, some wonderful vocal moments from the pair especially during ‘’You Two’ and ‘Truly Scrumptious.

There are many comedic characters in this show and none of them shine any brighter than the two Bulgarian spies Boris (Olly Derham) and Goran (Ben Evans).  This hilarious performance, crafted so well by Derham and Evans was the highlight of the whole evening.  With incredible stage presence, a wonderful synergy and exuberate performance, the duo really did inject an enormous amount of star quality into the show.

The rulers of Bulgaria, Baron Bomburst (Jon Ranwell) and Baroness Bomburst (Stacey Lovatt) also provided some fantastic comedy moments.  Lovatt was devilishly seductive in her performance of the child hating royal and Ranwell was able to portray the ‘big kid’ Baron with flair. Of course, probably one of the most famous characters from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is The Childcatcher which is played by Nicholas Sullivan.  If anything, I think we could have seen more of this sinister character who received his fair share of boo’s.  His movement across the stage and general poise was perfect for this role and again the excellent costuming really did complete the overall look.

The whole ensemble was full of enthusiasm and energy throughout.  There was complex choreography by Martyn Davies that was executed well.  Davies is clearly a very talented dancer and with his choreography, especially during ‘Me Ol’ Bamboo’ and ‘The Bombie Samba’, the ensemble was able to deliver some wonderful performances.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang remains a classic story loved by adults and children alike and is the perfect family show.  The Bilston Operatic Company have once again delivered a fantastic show and it was a pleasure to be in the audience.

This show was reviewed on the 8th November 2023.  Chitty Chitty Bang Bang runs at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre until the 11th November 2023.


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