Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is an interesting show to define. Part musical, part children's spectacle, it ultimately settles as a big budget pantomime. It is a clever route for Roger Hodgman to direct this show as its virtually non-existent script does little for both actor and audience. Everything in this production of Chitty is big and over dramatized, which for the most part works particularly effectively. There are moments and performances however, that aren't in sync with the collective pantomime energy on stage and these become particularly obvious throughout the show.
There are two stars of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The first and most obvious is Chitty Chitty Bang Bang herself, that most spectacular flying car upon which the piece is centred. The most expensive prop in the history of British theatre, it is faultless in look and design soaring above the stage, eliciting child like excitement from everyone in the audience. The other star of the show is the ensemble. Their collective energy and commitment to the material is electric and their precision in bringing Dana Jolly's fun and dynamic choreography to life is commendable.
Vulgarian duo George Kapiniaris and Todd Goddard as Goran and Boris provide comedic highlights throughout the show, finding the perfect balance between vaudeville, slapstick and story telling, clearly delivering on Roger Hodgman's brief. Jennifer Vuletic as Baroness Bombhurst is quite outrageous and brings some wonderful instinctive physical comedy to the piece. Rachael Back as Truly Scumptious brings all things nice to the role, making her one of the most likeable characters onstage. Beck's voice is as sweet as her character and her toy doll in the concluding stages of the show is stunning. The same cant be said for David Hobson as Caractacus Potts. While Hobson's dancing in 'Me Ol'Bamboo' is surprisingly quite thrilling, it is unfortunately one of the few moments where he is genuinely switched on during his performance. He seems to walk around the stage on autopilot delivering lines meaninglessly and without thought to character development with the most beautiful tender moment of 'Hushabye Mountain' coming across particularly heartless and full of indulgence. While everyone around him is fighting feverishly to support this, it's unfortunately not enough with the show's spotlight shining directly at Hobson.
Anthony Ward's Scenic and Costume design is quite spectacular as is the Orchestra under the direction of Peter Casey, accompanying the action to perfection along the way. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a great, fun piece of theatre to take your children to. They will love it. If you're after anything other than a very handsome children's pantomime then it's not the show for you. If it's a bright, light hearted romp you're after then don't miss it.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang will play Her Majesty's Theatre until March 17. To book, visit Ticketek.com.au.