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My Theatrical Debut
Claire Brown attends a night at 'Chitty Chitty Bang-Bang

I was ready for my theatrical debut, carefully planned hair and make-up perfectly in place, I walked gingerly towards the stage. OK, so I wasn’t appearing in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s latest – just dressing up for a night out in London’s West End.

That was my fist mistake, as no-one else had bothered and I was surrounded by casually clad individuals with my glamourous ideals of London theatre in tatters. In hindsight, maybe I was a little over dressed; I was going to see Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, not Phantom.

It wasn’t such a lighthearted affair as you might first think. The classic children’s film is a serious business in our house and its biggest fans my sister and I wouldn’t be impressed by anything less than perfect.

Not exactly the sophisticated Londoners, we got very excited before the show even began - buying up programs, playing with the viewing glasses and deciding what flavour ice-cream we’d have during the interval.
However, the pre-show jovials were eclipsed by the opening scene, a truly stunning display that both entertained and captured the imagination. I’m glad to report that what followed was no different, we were hooked and extremely impressed.

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Some have critisised Chitty for its pantomim-esque style, however, I strongly maintain that this only adds to its appeal. We want to boo the Child Catcher (the spell biunding Richard O’Brien) and cheer on the hero, the irrepressible Caractacus Potts (captured beautifully by Michael Ball). It was the audience participation that made the atmosphere in the Palladium so energetic and vibrant.

The acting was superb, the part of Baron Bombust fitted Brian Blessed like a glove and his highly successful comedy pairing with Nichola McAuliffe was magical to watch, not to mention to genius of Anton Rogers as Grandpa Potts.

I was so enthralled I found myself thinking the seemingly impossible; could this be better than the film? The dance numbers brought the songs to life and the ‘3D’ effect of the stage gave the whole event substance.

…And so I urge you to go and see it, witness the show that the audience gave a standing ovation and if all I’ve said doesn’t persuade you, I’ll confirm the rumours, that yes, the car really does fly.

© Claire Brown August 2002

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