Monday, July 27, 2015

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Adapted for the stage by: Jeremy Sams & Ray Roderick

Music & Lyrics by:  Richard M. Sherman & Robert B. Sherman

Original Story byIan Fleming

Venue:  Candlelight Dinner Playhouse, 4747 Market Place Drive, Johnstown Colorado.

Running Time (show only):  2 hours, 30 minutes (includes 15 minute intermission)  For planning purposes, dinner seating starts at 6:00 for evening performances;  the show starts at 7:30 PM.  Total time from initial seating to end of performance is 5 hours.  If you habitually arrive at or slightly after the show time, you will probably miss part of the performance.  This show runs, as scheduled, like clockwork.

Date of Performance:  Saturday, July 25, 2015.

It’s a 1968 Disney classic, a time when the studio was creating the most entertaining children’s fare in the world.  The original story was written by a guy you’ve probably heard of:  Ian Fleming.  Yes.  That Ian Fleming.  The one who wrote the James Bond books.  Fleming had a children’s book in his head too.   Just like his spy thrillers, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is full of unlikely high tech devices, devious villains, romance, and the triumph of good over evil.  It’s James Bond for kids, but with music, singing, dancing, and an incredible car.  Oh.  Wait.  James Bond also had an incredible car.

For those who remember the original, you may be wondering “how can they possibly do Chitty Chitty Bang Bang on a stage?  The answer to your question is straight forward:  they can, they do, and it’s marvelous.  It takes a huge cast (30 or so), a talented orchestra, an aerodynamic roadster, an army of offstage specialists, and a fair amount of theatrical magic.  When it all comes together, as it does at Candlelight Dinner Playhouse, it’s an event for kids of all ages.

Director Pat Payne has pulled out all the stops here, using the entire theater to stage his story.  He puts actors in the aisles and the orchestra pit, even staging a dramatic entrance for The Childcatcher (Markus Warren) from behind the seats.  Using follow spots, he lights up the entire room as needed for his actors.  It’s a children’s story, but Payne hasn’t forgotten the adults.  There’s a reference to contemporary popular music that kids may not get, and he lets the conductor stop the show twice to prompt the actors.  

For those who haven’t seen the film or musical, the plot involves Caractacus Potts, a handsome but widowed inventor, and his two children.  Together, they navigate sea, sky, and some seriously scary guys in a place called Vulgaria. It’s all wonderfully magical, including Pott’s best invention:  a floating, flying car called Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
Alisha Winter Hayes (Truly Scruptious) and David L. Wygant (Caractacus Potts).

Potts is played by David L. Wygant, who looks and sounds like the ideal father. He also has a magnificent singing voice and a credible attraction to his love interest, Truly Scrumptious (Alisha Winter Hayes).  Wygant and Hayes charm the two kids Jemima Potts (Rebecca Hyde) and Jeremy Potts, (Brekken Wald) and the audience simultaneously.  The four of them create an attractive family that works together.  

As they tell us in a signature song called “You Two,” 

team work can make the dream work.”  

That’s a message we all need to hear from time to time.

Grandpa Potts (Stephen Charles Turner) gets a lot of laughs, some of them just by showing up with his pith helmet and safari gear (costumes by Judith Ernst), his mutton chop side burns and his bushy mustache (hair and wigs by Debbie Spaur).  Turner is a favorite for the kids, unlike The Childcatcher (Markus Warren).  Warren is the scariest, most diabolical character in the show, which is a credit to his acting talent.  He waited on our table, and I can assure you that the character you see onstage is totally unrelated to the guy we tipped at the end of the evening.

Baronness Bombastic (Alicia King) hates children, probably because her husband the Baron Bombastic (Bob Hoppe) is one in disguise.  Both King and Hoppe are simultaneously sinister and funny, giving kids in the audience a look at a monarchy run amok.  

Chief among the crazy characters are Boris (Jack Barton) and Goran )(Eric Heine), the bumbling spies for the Baron.  They are a great team; Barton and Heine add color and humor to the show every time they are on stage…or anywhere else in the room, for that matter.

Which leaves us with one more character who makes Chitty Chitty Bang Bang special.  Scott McCoppin plays The Toymaker.  When Jeremiah and Jemima are about to be the next victims of The Childcatcher, The Toymaker saves them from ruin.  McCoppin seems the perfect Toymaker and the perfect antidote to The Childcatcher.  He is a reassuring presence for all the kids everywhere who feel threatened by the real or imagined monsters under their beds.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a great show for kids, and just as entertaining for adults.  With some fine choreography by Alicia King (watch for Me Ol’ Bamboo in the first act), catchy music, marvelous voices, and a very talented cast, this is a sure hit for Candlelight.  Best of all, you will see a magic car that flies over the stage.  
David L. Wygant, Rebecca Hyde, Brekken Wald.

Your kids will love Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and so will you.  It’s enough to make us all feel like kids again.


There is ample free parking in the Candlelight parking lot and on Marketplace Drive.

Theatrical fog is used extensively in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.  There are also gunshots and strobe effects.  This show is suitable for children over 5 years of age.  It is recommended for children of ANY age.  That said, though, there are brief scenes that could be disturbing to sensitive children.

Dinner theater doesn’t actually have a dress code, but it is usually somewhat more formal than other venues. The Candlelight is located about 50 miles north of Denver, just east of I-25.  It’s a rural location.  As a result, you will see a mix of urban, suburban, and rural patrons, dressed in anything from traditional suits/ties/dresses to cowboy hats/blue jeans/bolo ties.  So choose your wardrobe to fit your mood.  Whatever you wear, you will fit in.

I mentioned above that we tipped our server, Markus The Childcatcher, at the end of the evening.  Your waiter/waitress/server works hard for the money.  The suggested tip should be on approximately 1/3 of your ticket price, plus a tip on the amount of drinks/extras you purchased.  Be generous.  You're tipping for service AND talent at Candlelight Dinner Playhouse.  Both the service and the talent were impeccable at our show.

This show closes on September 13, 2015

PHOTO CREDITSCandlelight Dinner Playhouse, RDG Photography.



Dinner is included in your ticket price.  Roxie had the Beef Wellington Pot Pie; I had the Beer Battered Cod.  Both were excellent, and included the house specialty veggie:  “bubble & squeak.”  That’s mashed potatoes mixed with roasted brussel sprouts.  Full menu here.

Like other dinner theaters, you can upgrade your entree for $12-$14.  Choices include Grilled Prime Rib ($14), Lamb Chops ($12), and Roasted Game Hen ($13).


Director:  Pat Payne

Scenic Designer:  Casey J. Kearns

Musical Director/Conductor:  Casey Cropp

Technical Director:  David MacEachen

Lighting Designer:  Shannon Johnson

Sound Designer:  Neal Johnson

Choreographer:  Alicia King

Costume Designer:  Judith Ernst

Hair & Wigs:  Debbie Spaur

Props Design:  Beki Pineda

Stage Manager: Michelle Megan Blake


Caractacus Potts:  David L. Wygant

Truly Scrumptious:  Alisha Winter Hayes

Grandpa Potts:  Stephen Charles Turner 

Jemima Potts:  Rebecca Hyde

Jeremy Potts:  Brekken Wald

Baraon Bomburst:  Bob Hoppw

Baroness Bomburst:  Alicia King

The Childcatcher:  Markus Warren

The Toymaker:  Scott McCoppin

Boris:  Jack Barton

Goran: Eric Heine

Lord Scrumptious:  Bob Hoppe

Miss Phillips:  Alicia King


Audra Agajanian, Michelle Sergeefe, Katie Burke, Melissa Morris, Britni Girard, Samantha Baldwin, Jennifer Hanna.


Broc Timmerman, Leo Battle, Jon Tyler Heath, Thomas Castro.


Haley Bart, Taylor McAnn, Annmarie Osmus, Ryan fisher, Christopher Walton, Elias Harger


Conductor/Low Brass:  Casey Cropp

Keyboards:  Phil Forman

Reeds:  Andy Kropp

Trumpets:  Larry Currey, Ian Sawyer

Drums/Percussion:  Britt Forman

Bass:  Ben Hornacek

Trombone:  Bruce Fox

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