It was Thursday the fourth of August; my mind was blown and I turned into a kid again at the sight of that famous, flying car. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a British, children’s classic, loved by families all over the world. The tour does not let the legacy down.
We arrived in Cardiff and it was a wonderfully sunny day. Chitty was performing in the notorious Wales Millennium Centre which, I must say, is magnificent and beautiful. I would also like to add that the booking of the tickets was smooth and the staff at the venue were very helpful. Cardiff Bay itself is lively, fun and has more things to do than my entire home town. The meals we ate out were faultless and the public transport was affordable and efficient. We had booked the evening performance and when we entered the Gordon’s theatre we admired the modern, spacious layout and design.
I think I should say now that this review will be biased because of my love for Lee Mead who stars as Caractacus Potts. The first thing I need to mention is that I was taken aback by Lee’s stage voice, and not just his singing talents. I half-expected Potts to sound like BBC Casualty‘s Lofty. (Mead played the bubbly, clumsy nurse from 2014 until his departure earlier this year.) As a fan, I do hope Lee returns to the BBC but watching him on stage just demonstrates the diversity of his talents. Mead’s managed to crack music, stage and TV. His voice is so captivating and impactful and holds so much emotion. The relationship he brings to the performance between Potts and his two children, Jeremy and Jemima, is so lovely and it’s clear Lee is inspired by his own bond with his 6-year-old daughter, Betsy. For those fans who have been following Lee since Any Dream Will Do?, it must be interesting to see the performer’s development and growth. Lee’s now playing a father figure and he tackles the part with wisdom and maturity that shines through to the audience.
To the kids who were watching the show, family was the main focus of the story and the child stars did a brilliant job reflecting this. The performance I watched starred, what the show’s programme named as, “Team Red” as Jeremy and Jemima, who were confident, energetic and on point in every scene. Then there was Carrie Hope Fletcher who played Truly Scrumptious. I have been following Carrie’s YouTube videos for a good few years now so it was an excitement to see her perform in the flesh, and in a clean costume (previously Carrie played Eponine in West End’s Les Misérables). Carrie’s voice is sweet and strong and complemented Lee’s perfectly. For a 23-year-old, she convinced the audience of all her character’s mature emotions, showing the fireceness, the passion, the determination, the romance and the love between Truly and the Potts’ family. The kiss at the end of the show between Truly and Caractacus was so well built-up and executed. Carrie has such a bright future ahead of her in my opinion.
Claire Sweeney also starred as Baroness Bomburst and I was so surprised by her brilliant voice, “Vulgarian” accent, and her samba dance number. The scenes with her and the Baron, played by Shaun Williamson were particularly hilarious and fun. Then we have the spies, Boris and Goran, a comic relief and I almost thought they acted as semi-narrators, appearing often like funny side notes. The Childcatcher was creepy and yet intriguing, and all of these characters are made whole by their exquisite costumes.
The production of the show also made use of projections to add to the magic and Chitty herself gave me goosebumps. The numbers that I particularly loved were Toot Sweets, which involved a very clever arrangement with the ensemble and the famous toot sweet tune, Me Ol’Bamboo, which Lee kept up with perfectly, Hushabye Mountain, the ideal number for Lee’s amazing voice, and Doll On A Music Box, a faultless performance by Carrie.
I would like to finish by saying that the Cardiff show’s programme was only £4.00 and had information on every single member of the cast, crew and musicians which I thought was very extensive and good value for money.
I recommend anyone to buy tickets for this show, which is touring until February 2017, whether you have kids or not. The hard work and dedication from the performers and creatives shine through the story and it all comes together as brilliant entertainment.
Thanks to everyone at Chitty and the Wales Millennium Centre for making it such a great night!