Called the most fantasmagorical stage musical of all time, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang dropped on the Australian stage in 2012. It has since left audience members of all ages mesmerized with its extraordinary sets and brilliant special effects. But now, the Australian production is closing its curtains for good.
Thrilling audiences around the world, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang has been recognized with many high profile stage award nominations and for songs that have become standards. These include Truly Scrumptious, The Bombie Samba, Them Three and, of course, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
The stage book is based on the classic 1968 family film of the same name and has a, to say the least, curious history. That film is based on the novel Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang, written by Ian Fleming. It starred Dick Van Dyke, the award winning legendary television and film actor, who also starred in another family friendly classic, Mary Poppins. Fleming is, of course, the creator of the most famous spy in the world, James Bond. And the film was subsequently produced by Albert R. Broccoli, who had been intimately involved with the 007 films until 1996. Even now, his family remains deeply involved in all the Bond films.
While Broccoli ventured in other non-Bond films, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang still stands out. The play based on the film based on the book was adapted by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman, and librettists Ian Fleming and Jeremy Sams. It originally premiered at the Hilton (now Foxwoods) Theatre in New York City in 2005. It ran for 285 performances and boasts Tony nominations for Best Actress in a Musical, Best Featured Actor and Actress in a Musical, and Drama Desk Award Nominations for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical, Outstanding Set Design and more. Its London production received two Laurence Olivier Award nominations, including Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical.
The story revolves around Caractacus Potts, a struggling inventor with two children, Potts’ eccentric grandfather and the beautiful Truly Scrumptious, a member of the upper class. After buying an old wreck from a junkyard, Potts transforms the wreck into a beautiful roadster rechristened Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The adventure begins when Baron Bomburst, deciding he wants the vehicle, greedily attempts to snatch up the car and the inventor. Only he instead kidnaps Grandpa and the wrong car. Now, with the magical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang on their side, the family goes on an incredible adventure to rescue Grandpa and defeat the nefarious baron.
Though the stage has gone dark, audiences can still sing along with the soundtrack and, even better, watch the always entertaining 1968 film. It is a timeless story of love, adventure and the kind of derring-do you’d expect in a story from the masterminds behind James Bond.