Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is ‘an undoubted triumph’ in St Albans

PUBLISHED: 11:37 07 November 2018 | UPDATED: 11:45 07 November 2018

St Albans Musical Theatre Company's production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang features a flying car at The Alban Arena in St Albans. Picture: MeltingPot Pictures / Simon Wallace

St Albans Musical Theatre Company's production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang features a flying car at The Alban Arena in St Albans. Picture: MeltingPot Pictures / Simon Wallace

MeltingPot Pictures / Simon Wallace

Madeleine Burton reviews St Albans Musical Theatre Company’s production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which can be seen at The Alban Arena this week.

St Albans Musical Theatre Company's production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at The Alban Arena in St Albans. Picture: MeltingPot Pictures / Simon WallaceSt Albans Musical Theatre Company's production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at The Alban Arena in St Albans. Picture: MeltingPot Pictures / Simon Wallace

Take a magical flying car, first-rate singing, dancing and acting, and an appreciative audience and you have another hit for St Albans Musical Theatre Company.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, a musical guaranteed to appeal to both children and adults, is currently gracing the stage of The Alban Arena.

And it is fun, fun, fun from the time we meet a forlorn Chitty to its miraculous transformation in the hands of inventor Caractacus Potts.

This Chitty really does fly – or gives the impression of it – and it is a wonderful moment when it first starts to lift from the stage.

St Albans Musical Theatre Company's production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at The Alban Arena in St Albans. Picture: MeltingPot Pictures / Simon WallaceSt Albans Musical Theatre Company's production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at The Alban Arena in St Albans. Picture: MeltingPot Pictures / Simon Wallace

No-one could ever accuse St Albans Musical Theatre Company of shirking a challenge – this has to be one of the most difficult shows ever to stage.

But they leapt at the chance when Chitty Chitty was licensed for the UK stage and are one of only a handful of companies to tackle it in this country and the only one in the south.

Director Julia Rufey brings all her experience to the show and scores a great success.

With slick choreography from Andrea Campusano and strong rapport with musical director Peter Allanson and the show band, Chitty Chitty is an undoubted triumph.

St Albans Musical Theatre Company's production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at The Alban Arena in St Albans. Picture: MeltingPot Pictures / Simon WallaceSt Albans Musical Theatre Company's production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at The Alban Arena in St Albans. Picture: MeltingPot Pictures / Simon Wallace

In fact, if you can’t wait to take the children to pantomime, take them to this because it has all the requisites – goodies, baddies, a comedy duo and a love story.

It is a real feelgood show.

Of course, as I saw the show on the first night, there were a few hiccups – wobbly scenery and the orchestra pit engulfed in smoke from the Glaciator machine – but they just added to the charm of the evening.

Gareth Edwards as Caractacus and Elise Betts as Truly Scrumptious were both excellent, joined as they were by Ben Pulford and Maddie Evans on the night as Jeremy and Jemima Potts.

On alternate nights it is the turn of Nate Finestone and Darcey Jones, who are sure to be just as good.

But it is the comedy acts that steal the show. Alex Handley and AJ King as the bungling Vulgarian spies Boris and Goran, sent to steal Chitty, are a hoot from beginning to end.

And Matt Clothier and Susan Akroyd as Vulgaria’s rulers, Baron and Baroness Bomburst, are just as hilarious.

The real baddie is Alex McKinven as The Childcatcher and the boos that greeted his every appearance demonstrated that he was spot-on in the role.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang runs until Saturday, November 10 and tickets can be obtained from the Arena box office on 01727 844488 or online at www.alban-arena.co.uk

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