The Darlington Operatic Society continued to demonstrate why they are one of the country’s leading amateur production groups, as “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” flew into the Darlington Hippodrome on Wednesday, October 24th, 2018.
Based on Ian Fleming’s children’s novel, the family musical follows the Potts family, headed by the down-on-luck inventor Caractacus Potts (Julian Cound), who is implored by his children, Jeremy (Matthew Scott) and Jemima (Alex Lennie) to buy a broken-down Grand Prix car.
To raise money for the car, Potts takes his kooky ideas on the road, including to the Scrumptious Sweet Factory, where he encounters Truly Scrumptious (Beth Hopper), the beautiful daughter of the factory owner, who falls for the widowed inventor.
After a local turkey farmer pays Caractacus for his hair-cutting machine, Potts buys the vehicle and works around the clock to restore the car to its former glory.
Meanwhile, the Baron Bomburst (Leighton Taylor-Jones) mistakenly captures Grandpa Potts (David Murray) thinking he is the famous inventor capable of creating magical cars. Chitty makes chase as the Potts family, joined by Truly, head to Vulgaria to save Grandpa.
Darlington Operatic Society is one of only a small number of amateur societies that have been given the rights to “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” and the talented group certainly do the production justice.
In the pivotal roles of Caractacus Potts and Truly Scrumptious, Julian Cound and Beth Hopper deliver extremely strong performances and there’s a brilliant chemistry between the two.
David Murray also deserves a huge amount of credit for his portrayal of Grandpa Potts, brilliantly channelling the mannerisms and the walk made famous by the late Lionel Jeffries.
Likewise, Christopher McCann is delightfully creepy as The Child-Catcher, with his sheer stage presence evoking hissing and booing from the audience in a pantomime-esque fashion.
There’s no shortage of laughs either, predominantly delivered through the show’s villains. Baron Bomburst (Leighton Taylor-Jones) and Baroness Bomburst (Hannah Teasdale) are charming to watch during their rendition of “Chu-Chi Face”, while Eddie Jones and society newcomer Nic Myers have great comedic timing as the Vulgarian spies, Goran and Boris.
Not forgetting the incredibly talented Matthew Scott and Alex Lennie as Jeremy and Jemima, who show heaps of potential to be future stars of the stage.
The 1968 film contained an unforgettable soundtrack, which Darlington Operatic Society incorporates into their production, with nostalgia-filled renditions of “Hushabye Mountain”, “Toot Sweets” and the Oscar-nominated title song, among others.
Backed by the tremendous orchestra (under the guidance of Stephen Hood), each track is performed with pitch-perfect vocals and brilliant choreography to match. especially during the highly energetic “Me Ol’ Bamboo”.
However, the real draw of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is the iconic flying car, which Darlington Operatic Society cleverly brings to life through a series of special effects, as the almost-perfect replica effortlessly takes to the skies. It’s truly spectacular to watch.
The Darlington Operatic Society continue to raise the bar with each of their productions, but the amateur theatre company have soared to new heights with “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”. A truly fantasmagorical show.
The Darlington Operatic Society production of “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” is at Darlington Hippodrome from Wednesday, October 24th, 2018 until Saturday, November 3rd, 2018.
Tickets are available from the Darlington Operatic Society box office on 01325 244659 or via their website.