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Review

“Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” – RYEDALE YOUTH THEATRE

Milton Rooms, Malton 17-20th April

 

There’s a song in this production ‘Teamwork (can make the dream work)’ and never was a song so apt.  The team behind this vibrant young company have excelled themselves this time with a ‘fantasmagorical’ model of “Chitty” that not only drives but floats and flies!  The whole show is a complete triumph from the rousing opening number to the final closing one – with wonderful costumes, singing, dancing and both laugh-out-loud comedy to tears-in-the-eyes moments.

As Caractus Potts (Junior) Sam Spencer showed us a loving and caring widowed father, struggling for money but working hard on his inventions to pay the bills.  His dancing and singing complemented the role perfectly.  Sam Piercy played Grandpa, a Grandpa who can sing and dance (as well as act).  With such a wealth of talent within the company the roles of Jemima and Jeremy were ‘double cast’ with each pair doing three shows each (Eloise Myers and Michael Williamson/Ruby Jackson and Jack Robinson).  Romy Freer – as Truly Scrumptious – certainly was true to her character’s name and sang and danced her way into not only the hearts of Caracatus, Jemima and Jeremy but the audience as well.

The laughs in the show came mainly from two more teams: the completely idiotic spies from a country called Vulgaria (Josh Lewis and Callum Hodgson – stars of RYT’s future) and the wonderful Baron and Baroness Bomburst (Ben Greenhough and Hermione Collier-Hield).  The spies had some really funny lines, at times coming thick and fast and always delivered with panache – and slick and fast comedy dance routines too.  The Baron and Baroness were outstanding in every way, vocally superb, completely believable and absolutely hysterically funny as the rulers of ‘Vulgaria’ and with wonderful comic timing – and wearing some excellent costumes too. All four had totally convincing Vulgarian accents, and never slipped out of accent once.

There were several “mechanical inventions” in the story, some – like the Breakfast Machine and the Haircutting Machine – invented by young Caracatus Potts. We also met a fine team of Vulgarian inventors, who told us about themselves in comic song and dance routine.  Of course, RYT is a “triple-threat” company (they can all sing/dance/act) and the dancing and singing was showcased in the fast, slick and colourful “Me ‘Ole Bamboo” with what seemed like 50 dancers whirling, singing and dancing with bamboo canes and the marvellous ‘Bombie Samba’ at the Baron’s birthday party.  The red and black costumes for the birthday Baron, his wife and the Samba dancers were so colourful as they whirled and danced their way around this (never big enough) stage.  There were so many ‘feature’ parts I couldn’t possibly name check them all here, but each one added to the overall delight of the show.

There was also a HUGE team of factory workers, beautifully costumed.  The stage was a sea of pink and white dresses, shirts and trousers (and sweets) in Lord Scumptious’s factory. There were a team of ‘Vulgarians’ who sang the Vulgar (Vulgarian?) national anthem beautifully, and also a team of locals enjoying time at the fair – complete with acrobats and gymnasts too.  There was another team of captured children living rough in the sewers under the Baron’s castle – all had been caught by the terrifyingly realistic Child Catcher (scarily played to perfection by Jess Scholefield).

Then there was a team who we didn’t see at all –  the Musical Choral Director (Rachael Clarke, in her first RYT show, who had all 70 members of the company singing with beautiful harmonies) and Musical Band Director Chris Hocking who led a live band which gave so much to every musical number.  I saw in the programme that there were eight of them, honestly it sounded like a whole orchestra.

The last team that deserve a huge mention is those who have put together this wonderful show.  The Director/Choreographer, Chloe Shipley and the Assistant Director/Choreographer, Lauren Hood are both ex performing members of Ryedale Youth Theatre. The fact that they are now working so hard to continue the tradition of an Easter musical is proof of the training with RYT that started them off on their theatre careers.  The dancing and movement in this production was outstanding – modern and fun, perfectly timed steps and movement – especially in the two big numbers mentioned above.  The costumes, as always in the very capable hands of Yvonne Young and her team, were perfect. The attention to detail that is in this show is amazing – every prop totally right, even down to the realistic sweets on trays, and with a special mention to Oscar, the most well-behaved stage dog I’ve ever seen,  not a paw out of place.  The biggest star of this show, however, isn’t one who sings and dances, it is one who floats and flies – the car herself ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ made by the genius who is Piddy Young, helped by his grandson Matt Kemp and yet another team of out-of-sight essential people.

Teamwork really does make the dream work, and Ryedale Youth Theatre proved it again on stage this year.  This modern, vibrant production, complete with the flying car, would grace any theatre in the land.  Every year I am bowled over by the wealth of talent on stage, from the very young to the senior performers and again each and every individual gave their very best to ensure that this, RYT’s 28th annual show, is a wonderful evening’s entertainment.  I just don’t know what they’ll do next………………..but I know I’ll be there watching.

 

Ann-Marie Gatford


Take a look at our Photo Gallery of our 2019 production ‘Citty Chitty Bang Bang’ along with all our past productions from the last 27 Years here.