USER (29Aug06): The much-loved film of Ian Flemings book transferred to the stage a few years ago and here we have the national tour starring Gary Wilmot as inventor Caractacus Potts. The story will be well remembered by those of us who saw the 1960s film, starring Dick Van Dyke, which was directed by Ken Hughes, but this stage version now has additional songs by the Sherman brothers.
A great success from the start of the tour last December, to get decent seats it was necessary to book 12 weeks in advance so that tells you just how popular the show is. Last night saw a capacity audience thrilled with the elaborate special effects and sparkling dance routines. Musically there were so many charming songs and big production numbers and the introduction to the stage of small dogs for Toot Sweets had just the right aah factor! This is a show for all the family.
Gary Wilmot is perfectly cast as Caractacus and he can add this to an already impressive list of theatre credits. A genuine all round entertainer Gary has charm, a great singing voice and well honed dancing skills too. He was a hit with parents and children alike.
Marissa Dunlop was exactly right for the role of Truly Scrumptious and her costumes were stunning (designed by Anthony Ward) and she was the perfect pair to Caractacus. The much-remembered “Doll on a Music Box” sequence worked wonderfully and was as magical as you could get.
Paul Greenwood was a dashing Grandpa Potts and was well suited to the part. He gave “Posh” polish and had great rapport with the children Jeremy and Jemima who were delightful and loved every minute of it.
As Baron Bomburst, Sean Blowers was larger than life but it was Jane Gurnett as the Baroness who stole the limelight and was wonderfully exaggerated particularly at the mention of the word Children. Musically, the addition of The Bombie Samba made for another colourful production number but it also allowed the Baron and Baroness to have some fun. It worked.
The Child Catcher was played by understudy Leo Bidwell at this performance and he gave it 100% with his reward, hisses and boos every time he appeared. Again the costume was excellent but in particular his head, face and nose were frightening in the extreme.
There were so many great performances like, Boris and Goran as the spies trying to hard to be English but it was the whole cast pulling together that made for such a memorable night out. And what of Chitty, well the only thing I can say is “Fantasmagorical” You really do have to see it to believe it.