Social media tells me: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is at the Millennium Centre.
When I found out I knew we would have to go. I have no idea how my boys came to love the film so much, but one day (Christmas no doubt) it happened to be on and I was surprised how my boys, with ants in their pants at the best of times, were so enthralled. I loved that they loved a film so loved by me. And now, at age 5, Chitty is a favoured film for me and them, whether as our family movie time or as a way of getting some housework done. So, I couldn’t overlook the opportunity that the film coming to the stage presented. Albeit I gulped ever so slightly at the ticket price. I love taking the children to the theatre, and children’s performances at the Sherman Theatre allow this to be the reality, and the odd show at the New Theatre is usually affordable. The ticket prices at the Millennium Centre made me gulp. More so before me spotting some text on the front screen of my online booking which made me realise I could book tickets for the children on the phone but not online (what’s that about?), so after researching the best tickets our money could afford this working mum had to wait till the next day for the box office to open to book them, and then oddly it transpires that an adult can only have two children… so I had to purchase two adult priced tickets and two children priced tickets for me and my three little ones.
Rant over, but this did mean the pressure was on. My £125 tickets (level 2 raised stalls) needed to be money well spent. In preparation of scary moments we re-watched the film in the run up. I talked the children through what to do in the scary bits (think child catcher)- cover your eyes or hide under the seats. I went so far as to offer CM the chance to trade her ticket with Grandma if she wished.
And as it was, thank my lucky stars, the stars collided, and the magic which is Ian Fleming’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the amazing cast, and direction of James Brining was in front of us on the amazing stage of the Millennium Centre. The production was everything my children wanted it to be and everything I remembered. As an adult watching the performance, I loved everything as much as needed. Lee Mead and Carrie Hope Fletcher were every bit believable to make Caractacus Potts and Truly Scrumptious perfect on stage.For me, the choreography of ‘Doll on a Music Box’ wasn’t as mechanical as I loved in the movie, but the children loved it, and I wasn’t sure of the need for ‘The Bombie Samba’, but it was one of the highlights of CM’s summary of the show so I’m obviously outranked. But ‘Hushabye Mountain’, especially with the video design was perfect. And between the cleverness of design for ‘Toot Sweets’ (will there be real dogs on stage mummy?’) and the fantastic choreography of ‘Me Ol’ Bamboo’ I was in my element.For all of us, ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ was obviously a winner but what made me so overjoyed was how much the children loved ‘The Roses of Success’. E was joining in loudly which I was surprised, given they had enjoyed ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ hypnotised in silence, that this was the song of all which would get my child joining in.The Child Catcher was awesome. Everything you would want him to be to be. Completely up-to-date, and for the sake of the younger audience, a bit of a pantomime villain. For me, I was interested to see it was not my child with ants in his pants but E, who was completely absorbed who fled under the seat. The second time I had to convince him that Chitty had appeared to coax him to look at the stage. But boy, between ‘The Roses’ and waving at the cast in the finale did my boy convince me that I had given him the most fantastic experience. CM, my gorgeous daughter, who made me leave Wicked because of the dragon and Charlie because of the chocolate tube, was obviously under strict (parent supportive) instructions about the scary bits, just sat in her chair throughout- Mesmerised. B does suffer from ants it seems, and so long as he’s with mummy, loved it.
I am so grateful my children had this experience. The money might make me gulp. But just wow. It is a favourite film. Chitty really truly does fly. And the cast makes this real. Without the cast a flying car would just be magic. With the cast Chitty becomes a part of a magical tale. Leaving disbelief and happiness- what better a combination?
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is at Wales Millennium Centre until the 21st August 2016 before flying off on the remainder of the tour in Canterbury, Birmingham, Northampton, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Woking, Salford & Bristol.