It was a once in a lifetime opportunity for one of Shropshire’s best-known amateur theatre groups Mad Cow Productions – the chance to perform the much-loved Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. And boy did they know it!
Undeterred by the enormity of staging a well-known classic complete with a flying car, Mad Cow Productions rose mightily to the challenge, grabbed it with both hands and smashed it – and they made it look effortless to boot.
Their version of Chitty was a big, big musical production – huge in fact.
The audience was completely dazzled by hundreds of colourful costumes, pyrotechnics, a whole new Vulgarian language, children, more children, three dogs – and not one, but three cars including an authentic Chitty.
There was salsa and a bit of Me Ol’ Bamboo, a sensational performance by Becky Stafford as Truly Scrumptious as a life-size music box doll – and some exceptional singing.
The production, directed by Alex Hinton and choreographed by Lisa Lowarch, has just finished a massive five-show run in the main auditorium at Shrewsbury’s Theatre Severn.
Alex said that they were one of just 12 amateur groups to be granted the licence to perform the show from 600 bids – and they simply couldn’t refuse.
“Chitty is a very special show and when we were offered it we did have to pause for thought – it was a very big show to stage – but Lisa and I thought how could we possibly refuse this once in an amateurs’ lifetime chance,” she said.
And after five months of rehearsals and hard work – they delivered a Rolls Royce production. And those lucky enough to go were blown away.
There were some fantastic performances from all the cast. Andrew Murray wonderfully captured the eccentricity of loveable Grandpa Potts, while the dastardly double act that was Baron Bomburst and Baroness Bomburst (Jez Mann and Jilli Gray) was pure theatrical gold.
Ryan Brown as Caractacus Potts and Becky as Truly delivered charm and warmth in bucketloads, and wonderfully wicked and spookily true to the original was Robert Rowlands as the Child Catcher – who magnificently leapt about the stage whilst sniffing out children. Special shout out to the show’s little stars, Jemima and Jeremy, too.
No production would have been complete without a proper ‘fine four fendered friend’ – so of course Mad Cow gave us an authentic flying real-life Chitty. It’s not often a car virtually steals the show!
This production, and its cast and crew, thoroughly deserved their five standing ovations – they gave it their all.
A feel-good family show that was worthy of the West End. Take a bow Mad Cow Productions – this was truly, truly scrumptious!
Review by Claire Dunn