BWW Review: CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG at Pukekohe Performing Arts
Reviewed by Sharon Hewlett
Not many shows can boast about a sold-out Sunday matinee- but Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Jr. at Pukekohe Performing Arts can. Adults and children alike were enthralled by the energy, talent and skill displayed throughout this production and gasps of delight were audible when Chitty was revealed.
There are some incredibly talented children rising through the ranks in this production. It is hard to believe at times that the leads, Jarrod Shirtcliffe (Caractacus Potts) and Katierose Pemberton (Truly Scrumptious understudy) are indeed children! Jarrod plays a likeable and love-struck father and has a velvety tone in his voice far beyond his years. Katierose's Truly is a lilting soprano who carries herself with the grace the character demands- particularly in the song 'Doll on a Music Box'. You could have heard a pin drop. When Shirtcliffe and Pemberton combined their voices in this song it was a standout. I predict these two will be going far.Any show is only as strong as its ensemble and this show had a great one- so many standouts in small roles which were played to maximum effect. Gianni-Mia Attrill-Dowling (Baroness) has a beautiful voice which balances well with the pompous and spoilt Baron played by Carlin Lee, Ben Shackleton (Boris) and Emma Jameson (Toy Maker) were adept at creating and maintaining Bulgarian accents- quite a mean feat, Lokky van Dijk and Poppy Aislabie played the children's roles with sweet believability, Luke Shackleton used physical comedy and his sense of comedic timing to amuse the audience and Amanda Shore as the Child Catcher was truly scary- in make-up and in manner- the highest praise for the villain of the show! Yet another stunning success for Director Hayley Va'a- not one to shy away from a challenge. As a first time choreographer, Louise Parker's choreography is simple and effective and highlights the talents of the children in the cast. A particular highlight for me was 'Me Old Bamboo' as it is always a challenge for adult and child alike. The Musical Direction, provided by Emma Bishop allowed the children to showcase their voices in solo, duet and groups. The costumes, also provided by Ms Bishop and her costume team, were visually stunning and reflected the period perfectly- it is a huge job to costume everything in this show from Bulgarian soldiers, a Baron and Baroness, to children who live in sewers. A particular highlight for me were the costumes in the sweet shop scene where the children looked like candy themselves in their striped outfits. The set design which included use of the revolve was innovative and moved seamlessly through the scenes with the assistance of the cast.
It is clear that theatre is alive and well in Pukekohe and this is a great show to take your children to these school holidays.
Pukekohe Performing Arts
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
27th September - 6th October