Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Birthmonth Day Ten: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Seen here as a Victorian Lady’s Maid
By ten The Real Personality was developing.  I spent a few years just right, and then hit puberty and lost it all.  I kinda emerged again on the other side, but now with a whole bunch of neuroses.  So those years from ten-twelve?  Halcyon, man.

I wanted to be a detective when I grew up (which I’ve only recently realised was because of Who Framed Roger Rabbit), but much like the inventor thing that was more of a game.  It’s not like I ever sat down and thought about what detectives actually do, or how I would go about becoming one.  It just sounded cool and I wished by some magic that I was one (and was really good at it), so long as it took no effort on my part.

There were several toy detective kits lying around which I requisitioned along with an old trilby, and I drew up business cards and made The Cat The Partner and I was off.

Although actually The ID said I was Chief Inspector and worked at the Police Station, I clearly drew an eye at the top of it, which means I was thinking of a PI.  I don’t think I really knew the difference between Private or Police.  I just liked the trilby part.


So Les Misérables wasn’t the last show The Father took me to see.  There followed a string of others where my reaction was probably as ungrateful and critical as ever.

There was

Lord Of The Dance (created by Michael Flatley, composed by Ronan Hardiman/1999, I think) – it was not impressively staged, and I guess I just like my stories to contain, y’know, dialogue, plus the good guys and the bad guys were played by the same people, which doesn’t add for much tension because they can't interact with each other.

The King And I (music by Richard Rodgers, book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, based upon the novel Anna and the King of Siam by Margaret Landon/London Palladium/2000) – the sets looked really expensive and over done in reds and golds and I figured if I was noticing that, then I wasn’t exactly enthralled by the show.

Whistle Down The Wind (music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, lyrics by Jim Steinman, based on the original novel by Mary Hayley Bell and the screenplay by Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall, with book by Patricia Knop, Gale Edwards and Andrew Lloyd Webber/The Mayflower/April 2002) – ummm, it was quite evocative, I guess.  But it didn’t exactly stay with me.  It is at least more dramatic than the film, which isn’t hard.

So with a string of not-exactly-hits behind us, when The Father said he was going to see the new Chitty Chitty Bang Bang stage show less than a month after it opened, I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised that he wasn’t taking me.  But I was.
I was shocked.  He was always taking me to the theatre and now he was telling me about a trip to the theatre he was taking and I wasn’t invited.  Or at least, not directly.  When he mentioned there was a spare ticket the words weren’t fully out of his mouth before I jumped all over them.  I wanted to see this show.  I knew the film and I knew The Butler desperately wanted to see the show, so all in all, I had to go and see it first.

And I do feel sorry for Singin’ In The Rain, because it didn’t get to be The Favourite Show for very long at all.
(it’s crying, not raining)

Because Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (music and lyrics by Richard M Sherman and Robert B Sherman, adapted for the stage by Jeremy Sams/London Palladium/4th May 2002) was amazing.

It wasn’t perfect.  Unlike the hooting audience, I wasn’t particularly impressed when Michael Ball jumped out from behind the machine at the start.  There were moments that I didn’t think as good as the film (Toot Sweets wasn’t nearly so energetic and they dumped the gag for Chu-Chi Face so I don’t know why it still exists).  While the new songs of Bombi Samba and Kiddy-Widdy-Winkies failed to hold The Attention.

But otherwise I was quickly swept up in excitement.  It was incredibly funny.  Most of the staging was inspired.  When the car took off I was completely taken in and was sure I was once again experiencing MAGIC right there in front of me
(until I realised I could see the hydraulic arm as it passed in front of the star lights on the backdrop). 

I still have some of the glitter (somewhere) that fell from the ceiling at the end.

It was the most amazing show I had ever seen.  So I only feel slightly guilty that I made The Father buy me both a souvenir brochure and the programme.  After all these tries he finally took me to see something I really really loved.  I’m also pretty sure this was the last time The Father took me to the theatre.  So way to go out on a high, Dad.

What's the best show you saw as a kid?


  1. Replies
    1. Never mind - Chitty Chitty Bang Bang didn't stay as my favourite for long either. I kept going to see really great shows!


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