Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

When we were in London a few years ago, someone recommended that I take the girls to go see Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.  So, I did.  They also recommended that I try and get first row on the Mezzanine because the car flies and the scenery is high up.  So, I did.  We loved it.  The performance was great.  The scenery was fantastic.  I knew all the songs, etc.  I promised Josh that when and if it comes to NYC, we will go again and he can see it too (he didn’t go on the London trip).

We saw Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at Sunday’s matinee.  Josh loved it, Fred (my husband) liked it.  The 3 of us girls thought the London performance was better.  London had been in production for a few years. 

All and all, it is a great family event.  It is a tad long but the movie is too.  The acting is very mixed.  The young girl who plays Jemima has a much stronger stage presence than the boy who plays Jeremy.  Erin Dilly, who plays Trudy is ok but perhaps will get better in time.  Raul Esparaza who plays Potts is just ok too but again perhaps he will get better in time.  The toymaker is horrible.  Philip Bosco who plays the Grandfather is good but not great.  The best performances are from Marc Kudisch and Jan Maxwell who play the Baron and Baroness.  They have their roles down and so do the nasty Bulgarians who try to find the car and get it back to Bulgaria. 

I’m glad we saw it because it is a fun event but I hope that the cast gels.  I just felt some of the sparkle was missing that we saw in London.  Maybe because we were seeing it a second time and my memories are so fond, I don’t now.  Even the stage seems sparser than the London stage.  Maybe the stage is just larger.  I am not sure but there is something amiss.  This is a production that has the potential to play for many many years on Broadway, something Broadway needs, especially for families.  I hope that they tie it all up before opening day. 

Comments (Archived):

  1. Jonathan

    Chitty Chitty Bang Bang has some of the most inventive songs to appear on stage or screen since the Golden Age of the great American songbook: You Two, Hushabye Mountain, Toot Suites, Truly Scrumptious, Posh, The Roses of Success, etc. So it should have been enought for an adult to enjoy alone, but wasn’t quite. I saw it without kids, and while I LOVED the movie with Dick Van Dyke, this version didn’t do it for me. I also believe that Raul Esperanza was the weakest link, which is sad because he plays the star, Caratacus Potts. He just didn’t seem like he was enjoying himself.

    P.S. Vulgarians and Vulgaria, not Bulgarians and Bulgaria.

    That being said,

  2. Emil - 33 years old

    Well, I have never been to a Broadway show and of course, this was my dream – to visit at last Broadway, the place that is so famous for its culture, theatre, lights and dreams.
    Everybody knows the name Broadway in the country where I live… and believe me even the kids are knowledgeable about Broadway and the great theatres they can visit there.

    Anyway, it happened so that my girlfriend aranged for the tickets for a Broadway show and here we were at “Chitty, Chitty Bang Bang” – my first Broadway show ever – I was almost trembling.
    I have to admit – I am from a country that nobody knows “Chitty, chitty….”, nobody reads this children book to us (I know why now) and me and my girlfriend did not know anything about the play or the movie, or the writer of the children’s book.

    There is something I have to insert here before I can continue.
    I have always wondered where the usually bad reputation of my country comes from. Of course I have explained most of the bad attitude with the fact that my country is a small, unknown country, that it is famous for its communist past, for its extremely negative history with standing along with Germany in both of the World wars…
    Well, I have paid my dues for all that over and over again – although I was born 30 years after the Second World War and I don’t think I have anything to do with that…

    But what was my surprise at the start of the play to hear the name of my country over and over again, with sentences full of negativism and sarcasm and irony more appealing to an older audience, than for a play that has been marketed as childrens play.

    Ahaaaa…that is something unexpected, this is something new in explaining how my country is so infamous. Of course, how do you change someone’s attitude towards my country if in their early childhood they have been scared and startled by the “nasty bulgarian, that locks out children”…
    And please, don’t tell me that the play is about Vulgaria, not Bulgaria…this can insult even more.
    And what about the king – his name is Boris, exactly the same as the name of the last king of Bulgaria – Boris III, who by the way is German by origin and having a blood connection with the English Royal family and the bourbons, while the queen – Jovanna from Savoy – is an Italian princess…(who by the way had trouble to get her first child – Simeon, a fact that here in this play was grotesquely depicted as the queen that hates children)…what a bad taste.
    What is the bottom line, ladies and gentlemen, the two characters that we Bulgarians should be very ashamed of – Boris and Jovanna are not even Bulgarians – HA HA.
    Well, you, the audience did not know that, do you?
    What an irony, dont you think?
    I know my opinion is insignificant, as my country is, and at least I would like to thank you for reading my opinion. I am still not sure if you consider me a freak, a Bulgarian, that has been locked out…who knows, maybe you do…it is difficult to change.
    It is a pity that I and also 7 million Bulgarians – we have to pay for the totally undeserved burden of our broken nationality pride.

  3. Brouhaha

    Ok… I must admit I don’t know the true politics (if any) behind Ian Flemings original story, Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang: The Magical Car, back in 1964 when it was first published.

    However, I can point out that it was filmed in Bavaria, not Bulgaria, and the Baron (there was no King) is named Baron Bomburst, not Boris. He is certainly a stereotype of some sort of monarch from that area, but I’m not sure you are correct to take this children’s story so seriously as a blow to your national identity as a Bulgarian, 40 years after it was written.

    Anyway, the movie is much better than the musical, which is closing on 12/31.

  4. Emil

    Well, get to know the true politics behind the story then.

  5. Brouhaha

    Ok, I’ve taken a look, and I see no mention of King Boris or Queen Jovanna:

    But I maintain than any image of Bulgaria that people have in this country (if any) has nothing to to with a Broadway musical based upon a book written in 1946 that no one but a Bulgarian would even think to associate with that country.

    The suggestion is laughable, frankly.

    People made similar complaints about the “Trade Federation” and “Jar-Jar Binks” in George Lucas’ Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, saying they were thinly veiled Chinese stereotypes, and Jamaicans, respectively.

    Maybe so, in a stretch. But in my opinion, such claims only serve to trivialize the issues of prejudice, stereotypes and real discrimination that exists in the world.

    I can assure you that Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang simply does not enter into my thinking with respect to my image of the country of Bulgaria in 2005.

    In any event, I wish you and Bulgaria well and hope you have a much more pleasant experience if you are again able to visit New York City.