Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is at the Lowry and it is a truly scrumptious offering.
I must have seen Ian Fleming's 1968 film at least a dozen times. But this was my first time watching Chitty on stage and I was looking forward to it.
Right from the outset I knew I was in for a treat. The stage setting and visual effects were ingenious. I loved how projection was used to give a sense of movement around Chitty, the car. The special effects that made Chitty glide on water and fly in the air were delightful. Stand out for me was the scene at the beach where the Vulgarian ship is in hot pursuit and Chitty outsmarts it.
Jason Manford excelled in the role of Caractacus Potts. I knew he was a brilliant comedian from watching him on TV. But I had no idea he could sing so well and dance too. He held his own against the professional dancers tapping to Me Ol’ Bamboo. And struck every single note throughout.
The same goes for the rest of the cast too. It was joyous to hear familiar melodies sang to perfection. Of note was Hushabye Mountain. A soft, gentle lullaby with no gimmicks would have exposed any vocal shortcomings. There were none. J was thrilled to bits because it happens to be his favourite. I sing it to him most nights at bedtime.
Charlotte Wakefield was outstanding. Her Doll on a Music Box was simply sensational. How she managed to control those robotic arm and leg movements while singing at the same time is beyond me.
My personal favourites were the two bumbling Vulgarian spies, Goran and Boris. I enjoyed their tongue-in-cheek humour and slightly grown-up jokes.
We had prepared J for The Childcatcher, told him he was make-believe, just an actor playing a part. It was J’s first time watching a nasty villain in action at close range. I was surprised at how calm and collected he was all the way through the terrifying scene at The Toymaker’s Shop. But he did say his favourite part was when The Childcatcher sang with the rest of the cast at the curtain call. And here I was thinking Chitty was the star of the show!
I could go on and on about every cast member, every performance in every act. All I will say is this.
You know when you’ve watched a show and come out with a huge grin plastered on your face, your hands sore for all the clapping. And you can’t get that tune out of your head a week after you’ve heard it. That is Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. It was faultless from start to finish. The acting was superlative, the comic timing was spot on, the music was excellent. It was one of the best stage musicals I have seen in a very long time.
If you love fantastic musical theatre, make sure to watch Chitty Chitty Bang Bang on stage. And take all the family along. They will love you for it.
Chitty is playing at The Lowry right into the New Year, till 15 January. Check out the website for more details and to buy your tickets.
Disclosure: We were invited to attend a press showing of Chitty in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own. All stage photos copyright The Lowry.