Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director & produced playwright (20 plays). Scripts published by Currency Press. She worked as an actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate is currently Convenor of Professional Writing & Editing, Swinburne University. Read her reviews here or at: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Thursday, 31 January 2013
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Feb 2, 2013 ***1/2
Music by Richard M. Sherman & Robert B.Sherman Adapted for stage by Jeremy Sams &
Ray Roderick Adapted from movie by Ken
Hughes & Roald Dahl; original story by Ian
Fleming Produced by Tim Lawson Her
Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne for 10 weeks Reviewer: Kate Herbert Stars: ***1/2
The review is
now on line Herald Sun, Arts.It wasn't published as
expected in Sunday Herald Sun News pages, Sun Feb 3. KH
Photo by Joe Calleri
undeniable star of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is the exquisitely designed, flying
racing car that cost over a million dollars, making it the most expensive stage
prop in theatre history.
Chitty won the audience’s appreciation
by a country mile, leaving them gaping in childlike astonishment as this
glossy, 1920s vehicle, carrying the human stars of the show, spread its orange
wings and flew into a glittering night sky.
The Melbourne opening night audience
was adorned with celebrities from stage, screen, radio and sports including: Stefan Denis, Shane Jacobsen, Colin
Lane and musical theatre stars Marina Prior and Rhonda Burchmore.
Two of the celebs – tennis champ, Todd
Woodbridge, and Debra Byrne, grand lady of the musical stage – were present to
witness their respective children, Beau Woodbridge and Lucille Le Meledo,
playing the perky, wide-eyed and precocious Jeremy and Jemima Potts who
cheerfully sing Truly Scrumptious and
David Hobson, renowned tenor of the
opera stage, plays Caractacus Potts, eccentric inventor and creator of the
enchanted car, and his silken vocal tone resonates in the sweetly moving
lullaby, Hushabye Mountain.
Hobson carries the Sherman brothers’
songs beautifully – particularly the title tune – but, although his dancing is
surprisingly competent, his acting is limited, his dialogue uncomfortable, he
lacks the clown skill required for the physical comedy, and he looks more
startled than eccentric.
Rachael Beck, as Truly Scrumptious,
Potts’ aptly named love interest, is pert and delicious with a warm, pretty
voice, and her rendition of Doll On A
Music Box, with its duet with Hobson as a jack in the box, is a sweet
The first half is slow to get cracking,
but the comedic duo, George Kapiniaris and Todd Goddard as the Vulgarian spies,
Goran and Boris, provide big laughs, as do a scampering rabble of scruffy dogs
and a line of panting runners who are repeatedly passed by Chitty on the road.
The second half is completely stolen by
the exceptional vocal talent and impeccable comic delivery and timing of
Jennifer Vuletic as the haughty Baroness Bomburst of Vulgaria, singing the
silly love duet Chu–Chi Face and
leading the chorus in The Bombie Samba.
Vuletic shifts hilariously from sexy
lover, to heartless child-hater then into a whimpering mess at any mention of
the “c” word – children.
Alan Brough is entertainingly childlike
as her husband, Baron Bomburst, a teutonic man-child who adores toys and
blowing things up, but Brough’s character lacks the contrasting bombastic
militarism that ironically highlights his naïvete.
Peter Carroll’s Grandpa Potts is a
delightfully potty, old British military man, and Tyler Coppin is reminiscent
of a Tim Burton movie character as the scary, spider-like Child Catcher.
The Sherman brothers’ musical styles
include 1900s music hall, lullabies, latin beats, children’s songs and peppy
dance tunes, but the most memorable is the title song.
James Bond creator, Ian Fleming’s
children’s book morphed into the 1968 movie written by Roald Dahl which was
subsequently adapted in 2002 by Jeremy Sams and Ray Roderick for this stage
Director, Roger Hodgman, keeps the
action and the gags lively, Peter Casey conducts the orchestra skilfully, Dana
Jolly’s choreography is cheerfully animated albeit unoriginal, and Anthony
Ward’s set is effectively cartoon-like and his vivid costumes are high-gelati.
Families who loved Mary Poppins and its
songs by the Shermans will enjoy this production, but Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
lacks the array of award-winning, unforgettable songs, electrifying dance
routines and magical characters that hallmark Poppins.
By Kate Herbert
Photo by Joe Calleri
Director - Roger Hodgman
Choreographer - Dana Jolly
Musical Director/Conductor - Peter Casey
Scenic & Costume Designer - Anthony Ward
Lighting Designer - Matt Scott
Sound Designer - Kelvin Gedye
David Hobson - Caractacus Potts
Rachael Beck - Truly Scrumptious
Tyler Coppin - Childcatcher
Jeremy Potts - Shared by Kade Hughes, Kurtis Papadinis, Beau Woodbridge
Jemima Potts - Quinn Cameron, Lucille Le Meledo, Caitlin Vippond