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Chitty Chitty Bang Bang London Reviews


Chitty should run and run and make lots and lots of money. It is a big, joyful, enchanting show. This production, adapted by Jeremy Sams, is fresh, warm-hearted, thrillingly inventive; in a word, magical. You can't fool children. They can spot fake magic from a mile. The night I saw the show, the children's joy was obvious. No fidgeting. No chattering. Only rapt attention. This is one of the uses of enchantment. The hero of the show is the designer, Anthony Ward. The costumes and the sets combine observation and fantasy, and the special effects, particularly the flying sequences, are breathtaking. This is a show for all ages: for children who respond to fantasy because deep down they know its real, and for adults who like to pretend, usually in vain, that they are grown ups. ---SUNDAY TIMES OF LONDON (John Peters)



When Chitty's wings emerge and the car begins to fly out into the auditorium, it's a moment of miraculous and awe-inspiring stagecraft that, after the initial shouts of pleasure, leaves grins of bewildered disbelief on the audience. There is so much to admire here. The performances are excellent, the direction and designs first rate and the band plays like a dream. And, of course, there's that car. Be amazed. Be very amazed. ---METRO (Warwick Thompson)



I am bewildered by how much I love the new stage version of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The sweetness at the show's heart is unlike anything else in the West End. I'm left cold by most cars, but this one is breathtakingly beautiful. And yes, it flies: it flies out over the orchestra pit, and it turns in the air. Gillian Lynne's choreography has a more brilliant command of dance vocabulary than will be found from almost any ballet choreographer working in today's opera houses. And when Michael Ball sings "Hushabye Mountain", the tenderness that underlies this whole show becomes transcendent. This is a musical you must see. ---THE FINANCIAL TIMES (Alastair Macaulay)



Chitty Chitty Bang Bang hit the West End last night with an outburst of sheer theatrical magic. Not many stage vehicles land so smoothly as this. The epic musical is beautifully calculated to enthrall the young with its fairytale weirdness and offer adults the seductive chance of a second childhood in its amusing company. When the fantastic gold and silver car grows water wings, rises into the starry skies and glides above the front stalls, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang achieves a more thrilling impact than anything contrived on the film version. It proves itself an ageless pleasure and a pleasure for all ages. ---THE EVENING STANDARD (Nicholas de Jongh)



There is no doubt whatsoever that Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is going to be a smash hit. ---DAILY TELEGRAPH (Charles Spencer)



You can tell from the moment the audience starts clapping along with the main theme of the overture that this one is going to be a winner. And so it proves to be, with balletic choreography from Gillian Lynne, ever more spectacular sets by Anthony Ward and tuneful performances by Michael Ball as Caractacus Potts and teenage newcomer Emma Williams as Truly Scrumptious, who manages to live up to her name. But the real star of the show is the car. It gets more applause than Michael Ball when it finally appears, rising through a cloud of dry ice. It honks, bounces and winks at us, and you hug yourself with excitement when this $750,000 lump of theatrical magic outpaces the Vulgarian navy on the high seas.

And when it finally flies, and you know it will, you can't help but agree with Miss Scrumptious that "it's not a car, it's a miracle". There is a goose-bump moment when it really does seem to be soaring unassisted over the audience. This may be the costliest show on Earth, but you get more bang-bangs for your buck than you could possibly expect. This is a fine four-fendered fabulous night. In fact it's chitty chitty brilliant. ---DAILY EXPRESS (Simon Edge)




I'm delighted to report that, in terms of aerodynamics and sheer entertainment value, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang gives both kids and adults a genuine Bang Bang for their Buck Buck. Our "fine four-fendered friend" is not the only thing that is airborne in the show. The one justification for transferring this material from celluloid to stage is to improve on the original. That is the show's achievement. This version of Chitty passes its theatrical test with literally flying colours. ---THE INDEPENDENT (Paul Taylor)



Everyone is at it: turning popular movies into stage musicals. In this show, unlike the Full Monty, the result is in almost every respect superior to the original: Adrian Noble's exhilirating production seems to release the Dionysiac music hall spirit and the inventive magic that was only fitfully realized in the Ken Hughes film. The great joy of the show is the way it returns the Sherman Brothers' excellent tunes to their theatrical origins. Anthony Ward's designs, however, are the show's most remarkable single feature. Of course, it is the car everyone has come to see; and I can only report that when it becomes airborne and flies over the heads of the front stalls there are gasps of astonished delight. Adrian Noble's production, the best he has done in years, binds the whole show together. The result is a musical with that quality of ecstasy one always looks for in the genre and rarely finds. ---THE GUARDIAN (Michael Billington)



No doubt about it: the car's a star! A superstar in fact. Just to see that amazing flying automobile was worth every penny as far as the ecstatic first night crowd were concerned. A glittering contraption of gold, glass and varnished wood, it defies both belief and gravity. The sell out audience gasps while I--your cynical critic--strained to work out how on earth the thing got off the ground. And for most of this breathtaking two-and-a-half hour spectacular I remained in a state of awe-struck confusion. This exuberant, lavish, almost unbelievable festival of fun was irresistable. Like a tidal wave it engulfs you and carries you along at breakneck speed. It is a winner through and through. To coin a phrase, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a sure fire hit. And...oh what a car! ---DAILY MIRROR (Kevin O'Sullivan)





From the moment the orchestra struck up the title song, and the audience clapped along, to the end, when the characters soared and swiveled in mid-air to the self same tune, I realised that if Chitty the car is waterproof, gravity-proof and accident-proof, Chitty the musical is certainly critic-proof. And why not? Noble's production is fluent and fun. When Richard O'Brien's pointy-eared, pointy-nosed, gloriously sinister childcatcher ends up disappearing through the Palladium ceiling--well, even I couldn't help joining in the oohs and ahs. THE TIMES (Benedict Nightingale)





New York Post


April 24, 2002 -- THE next big blockbuster family musical: "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang," which opened last week at London's gargantuan Palladium Theatre.

Broadway wasn't paying too much attention to this one, since it sounded, frankly, like another ghastly, over-produced kiddie show along the lines of "Seussical, the Musical."

But the reviews were truly scrumptious, and ticket sales have been truly boffo-umptious.

Last Thursday, the day the notices came out: "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" raked in $750,000, which is thought to be a West End record.

And that's with a top ticket price of just $50 - not $100, as it is in New York.

Broadway theater owners are suddenly interested in the show, so expect some healthy behind-the-scenes jockeying to land it for the 2002-2003 season.

Because of its size, "Chitty" can only fit into a handful of New York houses, including the Minskoff and the Gershwin, both owned by the Nederlanders, and the Ford Center, which belongs to Clear Channel.

The London production is said to cost about $18 million, which means the eventual Broadway version will cost $20 million at least, making it almost as pricey as Disney's $25 million "The Lion King," the most expensive show in Broadway history.

"Chitty" was directed by Adrian Noble, artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, who has long been looking for the kind of payday his colleague Trevor Nunn got with "Cats" and "Les Miserables."

Looks like he's finally found it.

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