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Chitty Chitty Bang Bang we love you!

From left: Aaron Gelkoff, Daisy Riddet, Lee Mead, and Carrie Hope Fletcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Photo: Alastair Muir.
From left: Aaron Gelkoff, Daisy Riddet, Lee Mead, and Carrie Hope Fletcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Photo: Alastair Muir.

It’s been 10 years since the world’s most magical car has flown into the Midlands so it was with much anticipation I awaited its return – on the second night of its Birmingham run.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a road trip like no other, encountering fantasy, adventure, danger and romance in no small measures. – And all against he backdrop of a non-stop score of wonderfully familiar toe-tapping tunes, including Toot Sweets, Truly Scrumptious and the riproaring dance number Me Ol’ Bamboo.

While truant from school, young siblings Jeremy and Jemima meet the beautiful Truly Scrumptious (Sally Ann Howes), who falls for their widowed father, Caractacus Potts (Lee Mead), and his various oddball inventions, including the family's quirky car, that seems to have a personality of its own.

Truly and the Potts family find themselves in peril when their former racing car is targeted by Baron and Baroness Bomburst of Vulgaria who want to learn the secrets of the magical flying machine.

Lee Mead was a worthy leading man, but it’s his vocal contribution that most stood out.

Worthy of special mention are the hilarious performances of the Vulgarian spies Boris, played by Sam Harrison, and Goran, alias Scott Paige. This clever comedy pairing had the audience in stitches.

And comedian Phil Jupitus paired well with Claire Sweeney as the despicable Baron and Baroness Bomburst who introduced an Act of Parliament banning children for their kingdom. Ms Sweeney’s accomplished theatrical background delivered a polished all-round singing and dancing performance.

At the other end of the spectrum though, Matt Gillett whips up a fearsome frenzy with his deliciously sinister portrayal of the Childcatcher.

The set smoothly switches from the family’s Windmill home, to the Scrumptious Sweet Factory to Vulgaria. Though the show’s real wow factor is, of course, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang itself.

The backstage technical team clearly had their work cut out for them in creating the car’s magic on stage – and unfortunately, last night, some ‘gremlins’ in the works brought proceedings to a stuttering halt. Five minutes before the interval the lights went down and we were asked to stay put. However this didn’t seem to resonate with much of the audience who proceeded to leave the auditorium. Confusion broke out and gradually many others started to follow as theatre staff did their level best to keep everyone in their seats while the problems were rectified.

But the show did go on – and after a few anxious minutes Chitty’s ‘not so magical’ lifting mechanism had been repaired and it was airborne for the grand finale of the first half.

On a show of this scale, technical challenges are ever present. Luckily they overcame this one quite swiftly, but some momentum had sadly been lost.

But, this aside, the show was a delight and met with a resounding reception from the Birmingham audience.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – we love you!

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang plays at the Birmingham Hippodrome Theatre until September 18. But be warned, tickets are flying out the door!

Tickats are available from the box office at http://www.birminghamhippodrome.com/

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