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Running through July 31st from Main Street Theater at the MATCH!

Review: CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG at MAIN STREET THEATER I always forget how utterly bonkers CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG is until I see the movie or watch a play adaptation. Ian Fleming (the author who invented James Bond) wrote the tale back in 1964, and it was a serialized novel that came out all at once in three parts. Most people know it for the 1968 film starring Dick Van Dyke which was ironically produced by the Bond films impresario Albert R. Broccoli. It's the story of a car that belongs to a whimsical inventor and his children that will basically do anything as long as you say PLEASE and mean it. Chitty floats, flies, and does all sorts of fantastical feats without hesitation. She is the original CHRISTINE if you are a Stephen King fan, a living car impervious to damage that has sentient awareness. As if the car wasn't nutty enough, the story concerns a couple of agents from a land called Vulgaria who have come to acquire Chitty for their Baron's birthday. They somewhat succeed, and the entire cast ends up in this strange foreign land where children are forbidden Oh, and there is a love story tucked in here between a single dad, a candy maker's daughter, and two children who skip a lot of school to take this adventure.

MAIN STREET THEATER is known around Houston as a premiere company that offers great children's theater all year long. These productions are very well done, and offer kids a chance to enjoy a stage production aimed squarely at them. Nobody does it better here in town, and CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG continues the grand tradition of providing quality content for the younger set. Acting, production values, and a wonderful setting at the MATCH facilities in Midtown Houston all coalesce beautifully.

The Acting Company is strong, and there is nary a misstep in the entire cast. Brock Hatton takes on the nutty professor role of Caractacus Potts, and offers sincere delivery combined with a melodious baritone for any of his numbers. Aili Maeve plays Truly Scrumptious with the right amount of sass, and also supplies the strongest singing voice in the show. The two kids are brought to life by Gracie Stamey and Sophia Horwath who bring energy and likeability to spare. The entire cast understands the material, and also seems aware of their audience. The pacing is quick, and the actors keep things light even when the darker sides of the tale creep up. I took great pleasure in the comic performances of Michael Chiavone, Whitney Zangarine, Camryn Nunley, Tyler Rooney, and Matt Hurt who all are tasked with playing the "bad guys" of the piece. All of them provide a dry sense of humor that is witty and couple it with a broad physical comedy that delights the kids.

Torsten Louis has provided a nice workhorse of a set that allows the story to drift from English countryside to Vulgaria easily. Alexander Schumann provides projections that allow Chitty to look as if she is flying after all. The physical design elements carry the whimsy from the actors into the production as a whole. The company uses practical and simple effects throughout, and it works to create the right amount of magic without ever scaring younger audience members.

CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG is perfect summer fare for kids, and also for those of us who enjoy a rather crazy car story from the creator of James Bond. It's a treat to see it here at the MATCH in Midtown, especially with such a strong cast in a handsome production. The shows are offered primarily as matinees on the weekend, so you can enjoy a quick show and eat lunch all lickety split in the area.

Tickets for CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG are available through the Main Street Theater's website. All performances are at the MATCH facility in Midtown Houston. Masks are not required for performances, though they are encouraged for audience members. The entire show runs an hour and a half including a twenty minute intermission. This is a version of the musical trimmed for young audiences, so it moves quickly. Snacks are available for purchase at the MATCH's concession stands.

From This Author - Brett Cullum

Brett Cullum has been part of the Houston and Memphis Theatre scenes for several decades now. He's been seen on community theatre and professional stages in several cities including Playhouse 1960,... (read more about this author)

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What did our critic think? CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG is perfect summer fare for kids, and also for those of us who enjoy a rather crazy car story from the creator of James Bond. It’s a treat to see it here at the MATCH in Midtown, especially with such a strong cast in a handsome production.

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