Theatre Review: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

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Presented by Northern Light Theatre Company
Reviewed 14 April 2018

Northern Light Theatre Company’s latest production, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is quite simply their most delightful show since their production of Disney’s Beauty And The Beast a number of years ago.

Director Gordon Combes states in the programme that “this show has touched my heart since I was young” (referring to the 60s film version of Ian Fleming’s only novel for children) – this is clearly evident in this final result. Combes has given us a wonderfully bright, very pacy, funny and charmingly touching production. He has even designed a very clever simple set using cogs and wheels as a central motif. Scene changes on this set are handled very well and swiftly – kudos to the stage crew.

Paul Sinkinson has marshalled together a fantastic orchestra with a great bold, brassy sound and has the cast singing vocals that ring out clear through the theatre. Choreographer Sue Pole has a field day with her routines and makes sure that the cast do as well.

Individually, Andrew Crispe (Caractacus Potts) and Kate Hodges (Truly Scrumptious) are always excellent, but put them together and they are sublime. They blend perfectly as both singers and actors and are a joy to watch. Potts’ children are delightfully played by Holly Abbott and Harry Ince, whilst Russell Ford does a great job of Grandpa Potts, playing it nicely differently from Lionel Jeffries’ film version.

As the bungling Bulgarian spies, Boris and Goran, Tom Adams and Gary Humphries are brilliantly hilarious and this reviewer is prepared to make a huge call by saying that they out shone their professional counterparts – and I finally got to hear clearly the words to Act English. Well done and beautiful bathers, boys!

The superb comic timing doesn’t stop with Adams and Humphries, but flows over to Gavin Cianci (giving his best performance this reviewer has seen) and Georgia Stockham as Baron and Baroness Bomburst. They make a rather strangely written Act Two zing along, especially with their robust rendition of Chu-Chi Face.

Of late, Northern Light’s ensemble casts have tended to be a little lack-lustre: not so this one: they have all caught Combes’ enthusiasm and energy and run with it. Special mention must be given to Bec Mason, Rose Vallen and Amanda Sharp: watch out for these three in Act Two as three of the funniest ‘old men’ you could shake a walking stick at.

Take a ‘fantasmagorical’ trip out to the Shedley for a ‘truly scrumptious’ family fun ride!

Reviewed by Brian Godfrey
Twitter: @briangods

Venue: Shedley Theatre, Elizabeth
Season: Until 28 April 2018
Duration: 2 hours 30 mins (including interval)
Tickets: $20 – $30
Bookings: www.northernlight.org.au/ticket  By phone: 8281 5026 (9am-9pm)

 

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