Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Poster for original Broadway production
Music
Lyrics
  • Robert B. Sherman
  • Richard M. Sherman
BookJeremy Sams
Basis
PremiereApril 16, 2002: London Palladium
Productions
  • 2002 West End
  • 2005 Broadway
  • 2005 national UK tour
  • 2007 Singapore
  • 2008/09 national US tour
  • 2009 UK & Ireland Tour
  • 2012/13 Australian national tour
  • 2014 Munich
  • 2015/16 national UK tour
  • 2024/25 national UK Tour

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a musical with music and lyrics written by Richard and Robert Sherman and a book by Jeremy Sams. It is sometimes referred to as Chitty the Musical to distinguish it from the 1968 film of the same name on which it is based, written by Roald Dahl, Ken Hughes, and Richard Maibaum. The 1968 film was based in turn on the book of the same name by Ian Fleming. The show premiered at the London Palladium on April 16, 2002, directed by Adrian Noble before opening on Broadway in 2005.

Plot

Act One

The junkyard manager Coggins recounts the last race of the British champion race car, the Paragon Panther, which was contested against the Vulgarian Vulture in the 1910 British Grand Prix, but the Panther crashed after Vulgarian spies sabotaged it. ("Opening") Years later, the Panther sits in a junkyard, forgotten by all save the young siblings Jeremy and Jemima Potts, who are enamored with Coggins' tales and the car's history. They are shocked when Coggins tells them he plans to scrap it, but he promises to save the Panther for them if they can purchase and move it within a few weeks. Truly Scrumptious, daughter of the wealthy Lord Scrumptious, arrives at the junkyard seeking a spare part, but upon finding the truant children, takes them home to their father, the widowed inventor Caractacus. Meanwhile, two Vulgarian spies, Boris and Goran, acting under the direction of their leader, autocratic Baron Bomburst, have discovered the location of the Panther and make plans to purchase the car before the children.

Truly arrives at the Potts household, an old windmill, with the children and lectures Caractacus on their improper upbringing before leaving; as he prepares a meal for the children ("You Two"), they tell him about the plans to scrap the Panther and he promises to purchase the car for them. Caractacus's father, Grampa Potts, recounts the family's troubles ("Them Three") and after trying some of his son's inventions, realizes he has devised a candy that can be played like a flute. The next day, Caractacus goes to Lord Scrumptious's candy factory to sell the design and raise the money needed for the Panther. Truly helps the Potts family make their sales pitch ("Toot Sweets"), but the demonstration ends in disaster as the musical boiled sweets unintentionally summon many stray dogs who invade the factory. Boris and Goran decide to pass themselves off as locals ("Think Vulgar" / "Act English") as they realize the patriotic Coggins will never sell the Panther to Vulgarians. Dispirited from the Scrumptious Sweet Factory debacle, Caractacus sings a lullaby to the children ("Hushabye Mountain") and decides to try selling another invention tomorrow.

In the morning, Caractacus brings another invention, his automatic hair-cutting machine, to a local fair ("Come to the Funfair"), but the first demonstration again goes awry, as the hapless inventor's machine shaves the prospective client nearly bald. Caractacus escapes the wrathful client by joining a spirited morris dance group ("Me Ol' Bamboo") and the hair-cutting machine is sold instead to a turkey farmer, who plans to use it to pluck and cook his birds, giving Caractacus the money he needs to purchase the Panther. After purchasing the derelict racer and towing it home, Caractacus performs an intensive restoration while Grandpa and the children maintain the household ("Posh!"); after several days, Caractacus emerges from the workshop with the beautifully refurbished car, which they decide to take for a drive with Truly. Collectively, they rename the car Chitty Chitty Bang Bang for the unusual noises made by the engine ("Chitty Chitty Bang Bang"), and the four go for a seaside picnic.

During the picnic, the children confess their love to Truly ("Truly Scrumptious"), who reciprocates and realizes she has feelings for Caractacus as well; distracted by their emotions, the adults fail to notice they have become stranded by the rising tide, but Chitty demonstrates its amphibious capabilities by transforming into a boat ("Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" (nautical reprise)) as the Vulgarians attempt to capture the car and the Potts make a clean escape with Truly. Learning the car is also a boat both infuriates Baron Bomburst and renews his desire to own it. The Vulgarians arrive at the Potts family windmill first, though, and believing mistakenly that Grandpa is responsible for the wonders of Chitty, they hook his hut from an airship, kidnapping him inside. The rest of the family arrive with Truly in time to see them taking off with Grandpa. Speeding in pursuit, Chitty goes over a cliff but in another remarkable display, transforms into an aircraft ("Chitty Takes Flight") and follows the airship, hut, and Grandpa back to Vulgaria.

Act Two

Upon his arrival in Vulgaria ("Vulgarian National Anthem"), Grandpa is forced by Baron Bomburst to give the Baron's car floating and flying capabilities like Chitty, working with other inventors previously kidnapped by the Baron. After learning they have failed for years to accomplish this, Grandpa despairs but is cheered by his fellow prisoners, who see their failures merely as learning experiences ("The Roses of Success"). Chitty arrives shortly afterwards bearing Truly and the three remaining Potts; the Toymaker hustles them into his workshop just as the Childcatcher rushes to their landing site, suspecting the presence of children, who are banned in Vulgaria ("Kiddy-Widdy-Winkies"). As Caractacus learns that to comply, the citizens of Vulgaria have sent their children underground to live in the sewers, the Childcatcher tricks Truly and imprisons Jeremy and Jemima.

While the Baron and Baroness prepare for his birthday party ("Chu-Chi Face"), Caractacus, Truly, and the Toymaker devise a plan to rescue the children and Grandpa; having learned of Vulgaria's misery, Caractacus and Truly vow to end the Baron's rule ("Teamwork"). The Baroness's party plans come to fruition ("The Bombie Samba") as the Toymaker brings in Truly and Caractacus, disguised as dolls that sing and dance ("Doll on a Music Box" / "Truly Scrumptious" (reprise)), distracting the Baron as the children of Vulgaria rush from the sewers and overpower the Baron's henchmen. The Potts children and Grandpa are rescued ("Us Two" / "Chitty Prayer"). The Toymaker banishes the Baron and Baroness from Vulgaria and the children from underground are reunited with their families ("Teamwork" (reprise)). Caractacus and Truly declare their love for each other as they fly home to England ("Chitty Flies Home").

Productions

Original London production (2002–2005)

London Palladium marquee featuring the musical, May 2004

The musical premiered in the West End at the London Palladium on April 16, 2002, with six new songs by the Sherman Brothers who wrote the original Academy Award-nominated title and song score as well. The West End production was directed by Adrian Noble (at the time the artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company) with musical staging and choreography by Gillian Lynne and featured Michael Ball (Caractacus Potts), Emma Williams (Truly Scrumptious), Anton Rodgers (Grandpa Potts), Brian Blessed as Baron Bomburst, Nichola McAuliffe as Baroness Bomburst and Richard O'Brien as the Childcatcher. Closing in September 2005, it was the longest running show ever at the London Palladium, taking in over £70 million in its three and a half year run.[1] The Palladium's famous revolving stage (as seen on Sunday Night at the London Palladium) was entirely taken out to accommodate the technology and storage space for the flying Chitty car, identified by Guinness World Records as the most-expensive stage prop, costing £750,000.[2]

Original Broadway production (2005)

The Broadway production opened on April 28, 2005, at the Lyric Theatre (then the Hilton Theatre), garnering good reviews only for the lavish sets. Ben Brantley in The New York Times noted that the show "naggingly recalls the cold, futurist milieus of movies like 'Modern Times' and 'Metropolis,' in which machines rule the universe" and featured songs that sounded "not unlike what you might hear in sing-along hour in a pre-K class".[3] The production was again directed by Adrian Noble with choreography by Gillian Lynne and starred Raúl Esparza (Caractacus Potts), Erin Dilly (Truly Scrumptious), Philip Bosco (Grandpa Potts), Marc Kudisch (Baron Bomburst), Jan Maxwell (Baroness Bomburst), Ellen Marlow (Jemima Potts), and Henry Hodges (Jeremy Potts). The Broadway production closed on December 31, 2005, after 34 previews and 285 regular performances. According to producer Nicholas Paleologos, "A substantial portion of the $15 million (initial investment) will not be recouped on Broadway."[4][5]

2005 Broadway prop car

A US national tour began in November 2008 at the Broward Center in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, with a revised script by Ray Roderick, who was the tour director.[6] These revisions have since become part of the licensed script. The original US touring prop car is now under exclusive ownership by Tony Garofalo of New York City, released by Big League Productions and currently being used for private display use as well as fundraising events. This prop vehicle is a full-sized version and fully equipped with many hydraulically activated stage tricks, such as surround stage mounted lighting, retractable wings, and spinning 45-degree tilt tires.[7]

Subsequent UK touring productions

UK tour and Singapore (2005–2008)

At the Palace Theatre (Manchester) (Dec 2006)

Since closing in London, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang toured around the UK, stopping in Sunderland (December 9, 2005 – March 4, 2006), Manchester (March 20 – June 10, 2006), Birmingham (June 23 – September 2, 2006), Liverpool (September 18 – November 18, 2006), Edinburgh (December 1, 2006 – February 24, 2007), Bristol (March 9 – June 9, 2007) and Southampton (June 25 – September 15, 2007), Bradford (February 11 – April 5, 2008), Sunderland (April 17 – June 7, 2008), Cardiff (July 3 – August 30, 2008). The UK tour visited Asia for the first time when it opened on November 2, 2007, in Singapore's Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay. Encouraging ticket sales resulted in an extension of the show to December 9,[8] adding 24 more shows to a run which was originally planned to end on November 18, 2007.[9]

UK and Ireland tour (2009–2010)

In 2009, the original production toured the UK and Ireland until 2010 on a smaller scale, directed by original director Adrian Noble and choreographed by David Morgan. This tour used the script revisions used for the US tour by Ray Roderick. The tour opened in Plymouth at the Theatre Royal on July 3, 2009, and finished in Eastbourne (August 18 – September 4, 2010)[10][11]

UK and Ireland tour (2015–2017)

A new production produced by Music and Lyrics Productions opened at the West Yorkshire Playhouse for the Christmas 2015 season, directed by artistic director, James Brining and choreographed by Stephen Mear. Following the run at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, the production toured the UK and Ireland and ended in February 2017 at the Bristol Hippodrome.[12] On March 20, 2020, Charles Hanson of Hanson Auctioneers in Staffordshire announced the firm would sell approximately 120 items, including the flying car, from this production on April 20.[13]

UK and Ireland tour (2024)

A new production directed by Thom Southerland, choreographed by Karen Bruce and designed by Morgan Large are to open at the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton on April 30, 2024, before embarking on a UK and Ireland tour until December 2024. In November 2023, it was announced that Adam Garcia will star as Caractactus Potts. Further dates and casting are to be announced.[14]

Other productions

Australian cast on a float during the Moomba Parade in Melbourne (Mar 2013)

The Australian national production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang opened on November 17, 2012, at the Capitol Theatre in Sydney, featuring David Hobson and Rachael Beck.[15] The German premiere of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang took place on April 30, 2014, at the Prinzregententheater in Munich, translated by Frank Thannhaeuser, directed by Josef E. Koepplinger and choreographed by Ricarda Regina Ludigkeit. The same team staged another production at State Theatre on Gaertnerplatz in early 2020.[16]

Musical numbers

Notes

*Songs were omitted for the 2008 US tour. "Kiddy-Widdy-Winkies" was replaced with a version of "Lovely Lonely Man" from the original film, sung by Truly Scrumptious.

Cast and characters

Character London Broadway UK tour US tour UK tour Australia UK and Ireland tour UK and Ireland tour
2002 2005 2005 2008 2009 2012 2015 2024
Caractacus Potts Michael Ball Raúl Esparza Tim Flavin Steve Wilson Darren Bennett David Hobson Jon Robyns Adam Garcia
Truly Scrumptious Emma Williams Erin Dilly Marissa Dunlop Kelly McCormick Rachel Stanley Rachael Beck Amy Griffiths Ellie Nunn
Grandpa Potts Anton Rodgers Philip Bosco Paul Greenwood Dick Decareau John Griffiths Peter Carroll Andy Hockley Liam Fox
Jeremy Potts Luke Newberry
George Gillies
Harry Smith
Henry Hodges Tom Hunter
Connor Doyle
Daniel Jukes
Daniel Shaw
Harrison Edwards
Samuel Wright
Adam Hargreaves
Jeremy Lipton
Zachary Carter Sayle
Venue dependant Michael Kilbane
Anthony Garcia
Max Walburn
Harry Grasby
Henry Kent
Hayden Goldberg
Elliot Kelly
Ayrton English
Charlie McGuire
Roshan Thomson
Louis Wilkins
Jemima Potts Carrie Hope Fletcher
Lauren Morgan
Kimberley Fletcher
Ellen Marlow Leyci Wightman
Maddy Allison
Shona Eaton
Chloe Jones
Harriet Back
Shannon Wake
Katie Reynolds
Dominique Skinner
Niamh Coombes (Singapore only)
Aly Brier
Camille Mancuso
Venue dependant Jasmin Younger
Rose Shannon-Duhigg
Ashleigh Ross
Lucy Sherman
Caitlin Surtees
Darcy Snares
Maddie Cochrane
Isla Ithier
Isabella Manning
Jasmine Nyena
Baron Bomburst[a] Brian Blessed Marc Kudisch Sean Blowers George Dvorsky Edward Peel Alan Brough, Shane Bourne Don Gallagher Martin Callaghan
Baroness Bomburst[b] Nichola McAuliffe Jan Maxwell Jane Gurnett Elizabeth Ward Kim Ismay Jennifer Vuletic Tamsin Carroll Jenny Gayner
Childcatcher[c] Richard O'Brien Kevin Cahoon Robin Askwith Oliver Wadsworth Dean Maynard Tyler Coppin Stephen Matthews Elaine C. Smith
Toymaker[d] Edward Petherbridge Frank Raiter Richard Owens Richard G. Rodgers Tony Jackson Phillip Gould Ewan Cummins John Macaulay
Boris David Ross Robert Sella Robert Traynor Dirk Lumbard Richard Ashton Todd Goddard Sam Harrison Adam Stafford
Goran Emil Wolk Chip Zien Nigel Garton Scott Cote Nigel Garton George Kapiniaris Scott Paige Michael Joseph
Lord Scrumptious[a] David Henry Kenneth Kantor Duncan Smith George Dvorsky Edward Peel Alan Brough Don Gallagher Martin Callaghan
Notes
  1. ^ a b "Baron Bomburst" and "Lord Scrumptious" were played by the same actor after changes to the 2008 US tour.
  2. ^ Actress also played "Miss Phillips" after changes to the 2008 US tour.
  3. ^ Actor also played "Junkman" after changes to the 2008 US tour.
  4. ^ Actor also played "Coggins" after changes to the 2005 UK tour.

Notable London replacements (2002–2005)

Notable UK tour replacements (2005–2008)

Notable UK and Ireland tour replacements (2015–2017)

Awards and nominations

Original London production

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2003 Whatsonstage.com Awards Best New Musical Nominated
Best Actor in a Musical Michael Ball Nominated
Best Actress in a Musical Emma Williams Nominated
Best Supporting Actress in a Musical Nichola McAuliffe Nominated
Best Set Design Anthony Ward Won
Laurence Olivier Award Best New Musical Nominated
Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical Nichola McAuliffe Nominated
Best Set Design Anthony Ward Nominated

Original Broadway production

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2005 Tony Award Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical Erin Dilly Nominated
Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical Marc Kudisch Nominated
Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical Jan Maxwell Nominated
Best Scenic Design Anthony Ward Nominated
Best Lighting Design Mark Henderson Nominated

2015–2017 UK tour

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2017 Whatsonstage.com Awards Best Actress in a Musical Carrie Hope Fletcher Nominated
Best Regional Production (at the New Wimbledon Theatre) Nominated

References

  1. ^ "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang the Musical". Eon productions. Archived from the original on December 8, 2009. Retrieved November 14, 2009.
  2. ^ Ahmed, Rashmee Z (April 17, 2002). "Chitty, the car, delights UK theatregoers". Times of India. Retrieved November 7, 2022.
  3. ^ Brantley, Ben. "She's a Diva on Wheels of Song." The New York Times, April 29, 2005. Retrieved February 29, 2008.
  4. ^ Boroff, Philip (Bloomberg News). "Two underrated Broadway musicals deserved better: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Sweet Charity may take to the road", Ottawa Citizen. ARTS; Pg. D4. December 26, 2005
  5. ^ 2005 "Broadway box office grosses for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" Archived July 5, 2009, at the Wayback Machine Broadwayworld.com
  6. ^ Gans, Andrew. "'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang' Launches National Tour in Florida Nov. 18". Playbill, November 18, 2008
  7. ^ "Car at Garofalo" strawberryfieldsthetribute.com, accessed May 24, 2015
  8. ^ Majid, Hasnita A. "'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang' musical to extend run till Dec 9." Archived November 1, 2007, at the Wayback Machine Channel NewsAsia.com, November 1, 2007. Retrieved February 29, 2008.
  9. ^ "Chitty Chitty to open with a big Bang Bang in Singapore." MI6 News, October 4, 2007. Retrieved February 29, 2008.
  10. ^ "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang - The Musical | Tickets - How to buy tickets & venue information". Chitty the Musical. Archived from the original on June 14, 2010. Retrieved May 12, 2021.
  11. ^ "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang - The Musical | Tickets - How to buy tickets & venue information". Chitty the Musical. Archived from the original on June 14, 2010. Retrieved May 12, 2021.
  12. ^ Mayo, Douglas (October 16, 2015). "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang 2016 Tour Tickets". British Theatre.com.
  13. ^ Sharman, Laura; Rodger, James (March 20, 2020). "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang stage show props up for sale - including flying car". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved April 18, 2020.
  14. ^ "New production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to tour the UK". June 6, 2023.
  15. ^ Bennett, Sally (September 7, 2011). "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang coming to Australia". Herald Sun. Melbourne. Retrieved April 18, 2020.
  16. ^ "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang". Gärtnerplatztheater. Retrieved April 18, 2020.