There are few musicals that radiate as much pure, unadulterated joy as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
It comes as no surprise, then, that the classic tale of British inventor Caractacus Potts and his family’s adventure to Vulgaria in their magical clapped-out racing car has been loving reinvented for the stage once again. Directed by James Brining and starring Jason Manford, Charlotte Wakefield, Claire Sweeney and Phil Jupitus, this latest production is a stylish, big-budget show-stopper which will thrill the youngest audience member’s right through to those who remember seeing the beloved movie when it was first released back in 1968.
While the script has been updated, it still manages to retain all its traditional charm, with songs like Hushabye Mountain and Me ‘Ol Bamboo coming across as stunning as ever. The pop-up sets are bold and colourful, while high-tech projections allow for impressive scene-setting as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang churns along country roads and to the seaside, with the iconic flying car in fine form throughout.
The legendary music box doll scene is brought to life brilliantly, with new cast addition Charlotte Wakefield turning in a flawless performance as Truly Scrumptious. Jos Vantyler is suitably creepy and terrifying as the infamous Childcatcher but, luckily, each of his scenes are kept appropriately short so as not to ruin the experience for the little ones.
Jason Manford’s Caractacus is kind, warm and charming but lacks the eccentric flair that has become synonymous with the character. His vocals are spot-on throughout and he manages to prove himself as an impressive dancer during Me ‘Ol Bamboo, which is as memorable as ever.
From start to finish, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is truly fantasmagorical!
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Festival Theatre, Nicolson Street, Edinburgh, Wednesday 5 – Sunday 16 October, 7.30pm (5pm matinee performances on selected dates), £27 – £47, 0131 529 6000.
Words: Amy Anderson