Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Music and lyrics by Richard M Sherman and Robert B Sherman; adapted for the stage by Jeremy Sams, based on the MGM/United Artists motion picture, from the story by Ian Fleming
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang has returned to the Sunderland Empire for a second time and opened to a full house of excited children and adults alike. Any doubts that a second run would be successful were overthrown by this enthusiastic audience who balanced on the edge of their seats from the minute the conductor was announced and the first few bars of the iconic song were played by a stunning in-house orchestra.
Anyone who has seen the film will be aware of the story of Caractacus Potts and his two children, Jeremy and Jemima, as they begin an adventure with their fine four-fendered friend, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. This production, however, has almost updated the film, integrating the cinematic 3-second rule that focuses the attention, giving a hypnotic effect. Audiences were dumbfounded by the fantastical and ever-changing scenery that moved seamlessly throughout, swirling with eye-catching costumes and intricate choreography performed by a stunning ensemble.
With a cast of nearly fifty members it is impossible to mention them all but special credit must go to the highly comical Goran (Nigel Garton) and Boris (Jaymz Denning) as the blundering Vulgarian spies who may not snare their beloved car but capture the audience with their wonderful routines and hilarious relationship, akin to that of Laurel and Hardy.
Kim Ismay's timing is impeccable as Baroness Bomburst and is delightful to watch as she cries for affection from her Teddy bear husband (Edward Peel) and the North-East stands proud of High Barnes performer, Rebecca Chapman as the delightful Jemima accompanied by the bundle of energy that is Jeremy played by Elliot Allison.
It is safe to say that this production has everything a show could offer, from flying children to flying cars, and, with ticket prices as they are, one would not expect anything less. Accompanying its famous soundtrack which includes, "Me ole bamboo", "Truly Scrumptious", "Hushabye Mountain" to name but a few, is a stellar ensemble whose talents go beyond the average and dazzle us as stilt walkers, acrobats amongst other jaw-dropping skills.
This production is a must-see and shows the capabilities that the Empire now has to offer as a receiving house. No longer do the inhabitants of the north east need to make such an expensive trip to London to view such a spectacle as the Empire is able to accommodate this large and highly technical show flawlessly. One can't help but wonder if the production will sustain its large audiences through its second, mammoth run of 8 weeks but for those who missed it the first time, this is a great opportunity to experience a magnificent West-end show with no compromises made by its venue.
Reviewer: V Mitchell