Though it is not a recent Disney hit or from a well-known children’s classic, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” playing now at the Children’s Theatre of Annapolis (CTA), has taken many audience members on a magical ride of creativity, imagination, and talent.
Pilot-Earle Smith and Anya Langbeyer, playing siblings Jeremy and Jemimah Potts, led the catchy opening number supported with a smiling ensemble full of colorful costumes and lots of energy (costumes by Natasha Hitchcock and Leslie Rollins). The Smith-Langbeyer team spoke as they would in rural England in the early 20th century, but with great diction and enthusiasm, the children in the audience hung on every word. The pair’s rapport was so strong many were viewing their programs to see if the two really were related.
…the Children’s Theatre of Annapolis (CTA), has taken many audience members on a magical ride of creativity, imagination, and talent.
CTA veteran actor Andrew Wilson brilliantly portrayed the loveable, bumbling father Caractacus Potts whose quirky profession was inventing unusable and unsuccessful items (a candy making machine which spits out sweets that play like a flute or a hair cutting bicycle). Though often thrown into mastering humorous situations and performing top-notch musical numbers like “Me Ol’ Bamboo” in this show, Wilson’s portrayal of a widowed father of two young children proved to be multi-faceted and authentic for such a young thespian.
Mackenzie Currie, an experienced actor at the ripe old age of 14 (National tour of the Sound of Music and appearances with The Colonial Players), played the role of Truly Scrumptious (daughter of the local candy maker and love interest to Caractacus). She held her own with the very talented Potts family cast, and her lovely vocals added to the quality level of this particular show.
Meanwhile, Liam O’Toole and Erica Yamaner provided genius comedic timing as the Baron and Baroness, who plotted to steal the famous car but who almost stole the entire show. In their big number “Chu-Chi Face,” the duo’s rhythm, timing, and pace were admirable. Their performance leading the ensemble in the “Bombie Samba” was sheer raucous fun. And the interaction with their two incompetent, bumbling spies Boris and Goran, played ably by Taghan McLaughlin and Finn Hintermister, proved great fun.
The role of the Child Catcher was a challenging one. Though the character was responsible for catching and getting rid of children in the land of Bulgaria, there were many young children in the audience. Haven Hitchcock performed the role with just the right amount of mystery and menace, while not being overly loud or frightening.
The charm of this production was not only because of the performances of a young, lively cast but due to all of the colorful and clever costumes and the creative and numerous impressive props (including a car that can float and fly). Kudos to Todd Croteau whose amazing sets and large pieces moving throughout the show were akin to a Broadway production. The production team of Atticus Boidy (Director), Trevor Greenfield (Musical Director), and Kristen Rigsby (Choreographer) have provided an entertaining, family-friendly treat for all ages.
Running Time: Approximately 1.5 hours with a 15-minute intermission.
“Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” will be playing at Children’s Theatre of Annapolis in Annapolis, MD through May 19th. For more information or to purchase tickets, click here.