I must admit, my inner child was very happy about watching this show even more so than the child in attendance with me! Chitty Chitty Bang Bang along with another Dick Van Dyke film extravaganza Mary Poppins, were always favourite childhood films that I would happily watch again and again. Chitty had that magic element that drew you in and made you believe in all that you saw despite the farcical elements; I was hoping the stage version would be just as enthralling.
As I am sure many of you know Cardiff’s own Roald Dahl, co-wrote the screenplay for the 1968 film and being the centenary year of the much admired storyteller, Chitty is a great start to the celebration proceedings.
The show’s journey takes us on the adventures of the wacky inventor Mr Potts and his children Jeremy and Jemima. It’s hard to believe that less than 10 years ago, Mead was a complete unknown trying out his luck on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘Any Dream Will Do’ TV talent show. Fast forward 9 years on from that show where he got his lucky break, Mead could never be accused of being a one hit wonder and is now an established seasoned pro. Mead totally transformed himself into Caractacus Potts; the wacky inventor and loving father of Jemima and Jeremy. Mead was supported well by Andy Hockley, whose performance as Grandpa Potts would have made even Lionel Jeffries proud.
As a fan of the film and knowing the tale so well I still managed to get swept away in the heart-warming story which is more than just the fantastic invention of a flying car. It is ultimately a tale of a family looking to be complete and find their missing puzzle piece; Truly Scrumptious. Carrie Hope Fletcher was completely captivating in this role, her vocal range glided with effortless ease over the well-known favourite songs with spot on accuracy and style.
The combined force of Claire Sweeney as Baroness Bomburst and Shaun Williamson as Baron Bomburst, created some of the best parts of the show. Their chemistry, humour and singing and dancing numbers made them a joy to watch with ease and in awe.
Williamson has been an integral part of so many award-winning West End shows, his role as ‘Barry’ in Eastenders has now become a distant memory.
As the story progressed I think we all knew that The Childcatcher was on his way and even after all these years the sheer mention still managed to draw gasps from the audience even before Matt Gillett took the stage. However, it must be mentioned that the fantastic creepy creation couldn’t have been complete without the work of the make-up and costume team; it was that convincing even I looked away at some points.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a fun filled family show to be enjoyed this summer holiday not just by the children but many adults too. It’s fast pace, catchy numbers and heart-warming tale will be sure to have you leaving with a flying spring in your step all the way home.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is at The Wales Millennium Centre until August 21st. Tickets available at www.wmc.org.uk