BWW Preview: CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG flies into The Coterie Theatre in Kansas City
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang opens at The Coterie Theatre in Crown Center on June 20, with preview nights on June 17, 18, and 19. The musical, based on the MGM motion picture featuring The Sherman Brothers original music from the film, receives its Theatre for Young Audiences World Premiere as part of The Coterie's Lab for New Family Musicals.
Directed by Producing Artistic Director Jeff Church, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was originally billed as "the most phantasmagorical musical in the history of everything. . ." This four-fender friend flies through the air and sails the seas, telling the story of eccentric inventor Caractacus Potts. Discovering that a former Grand Prix-winning racecar on a scrap heap has magical properties, Potts with his children Jeremy and Jemima and with Truly Scrumptious set out on a series of high-flying adventures to save the car.
Bond, James Bond creator Ian Fleming wrote the novel for young adults that Roald Dahl adapted into the hit 1968 motion picture. The film featured songs written by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman composers of Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book, and The Aristocrats among other Disney classics. Original tunes from the movie, "Truly Scrumptious," "Toot Sweets," "Hushabye Mountain," and the Oscar-nominated title song, "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" are featured in the Coterie production.
One of the major problems facing the Coterie production team is bringing the car to life, including flight and setting sail, on the stage. "Some time ago, I saw the stage musical in London with a car that flew using hydraulics to lift and tilt it. 'How will we do it? Well, I'm working with designer Alex Espy, who is creating the car from a concept I had for staging the show in an imaginative, new way," explains Coterie Producing Artistic Director Jeff Church. "This is the first time permission for the musical has been given to try a new way of showcasing the car. We're very excited to show our audiences... but I'm not giving away any secrets early!"
Veteran Broadway actor Jerry Jay Cranford makes his Coterie debut in the roles of Baron Bomburst and Lord Scrumptious, and serves as choreographer for the production. Cranford appeared on Broadway in Les Miserables and with the national tour. He appeared in the national tours of Singing in the Rain and Anything Goes, and the European tour of Evita.
Other members of the cast include Jake Walker (as Caractacus Potts), Stefanie Wienecke (as Truly Scrumptious), Martin Buchanan (as Grandpa Potts), Damian Blake (as Boris the Spy), Bob Linebarger (as Mr. Coggins), Hughston Walkinshaw (as The Childcatcher), Julie Shaw (as Baroness Bomburst), Teddy Trice (as Goran the Spy), Stefanie Stevens (Ensemble), and Andrew Thompson (Ensemble). Additionally, the cast features several young professional actors including Allison Banks (as Jemima Potts) and Lucas Dorrell (as Jeremy Potts), as well as Dakota Hoar, Marshall Hopkins, Malena Marcase, Reagan Danel Ogle, and Callie Rodina in the ensemble.
Created in 2004 The Coterie's Lab for New Family Musicals works with Broadway authors, composers, and publisher to transform Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and other Broadway favorites to a scale and running time suitable for family theatre.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang runs from June 17 through August 3, with ticket prices of $10 for youth under 18, students, and seniors age 60 and older. Adult ticket prices are $15. Group pricing is available and Target has joined with the theater for Target Saturdays. Patrons purchasing a full price admission to any Saturday matinee receives one free ticket per order.