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Conejo Players‘ Youth Theatre production of Ian Fleming’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Jr. based on the MGM motion picture that starred Dick Van Dyke and Sally Ann Howes, is running for two short weekends through 29 September 2019 at the Thousand Oaks theatre. Featuring music and lyrics by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman (the men behind Disney’s Mary Poppins).
Noah Terry is making his directorial debut after being an active member of the theatre community since 2015. Surrounding Terry are Katelyn Norman (Choreographer) and John Eslick (Set Designer/Specialty Props) who made Chitty from scratch and Michael Kronenberg (Music Director).
The musical based on Ian Fleming‘s 1964 book, Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang: The Magical Car, tells the story of down on his luck inventor, Caractacus Potts (John Michael Tedrick, younger brother of Hairspray’s McKenna Tedrick), who is a single father to Jeremy and Jemima (Peter Umipig, Matilda’s Olivia Marcum) whom raises with the help of Grandpa (Max Baxter). The children beg their dad to buy Chitty, an old race car, that is also coveted by Baron and Baroness Bomburst (Theo Chambers, Sarah Hatfield). The family joins forces with Truly Scrumptious (Abigail Reeves) to outwit the dastardly Baron and Baroness and their spies (Sabrina Silva, Lily Gentry) and villainous henchman, the Child Catcher (Asher Mitchell).
The show’s shining star is young Olivia Marcum who won audiences’ hearts for her performance as Matilda in 5-Star Theatrical’s production. Marcum’s performance is full of joy and she undoubtedly gets to wear the cutest costume Beth Eslick (Costumer Coordinator) could find. Her brother is played by Peter Umipig who is a terrific scene partner to the young actress. Their father is played winningly by John Michael Tedrick whose performance is a nod to Dick Van Dyke and he is well complimented by Abigail Reeves‘ Truly Scrumptious vocally. Their group numbers: “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” (Academy Award Nominated) and “Truly Scrumptious” are the show’s biggest numbers.
The show is so well cast that supporting actors Sarah Hatfield and Theo Chambers are nearly capable of stealing the show with their adorable chemistry and great delivery of the show’s comedic lines. Their “Chu-Chi Face” will have you smiling from ear to ear. Another scene stealer has to be Sabrina Silva as a spy working for the Baron and Baroness who is comedic gold.
From top to bottom, the charming cast of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Jr. is delightful and winsome. They do a great job with the choreography given them by Katelyn Norman and must make Noah Terry proud of his directorial debut. Two standouts of the ensemble are Annie Jr.‘s Mia Brown and Julia Kirkpatrick (To Kill a Mockingbird) who steal the final scene as they capture the Child Catcher (Asher Mitchell).
For those who fear the show’s Child Catcher storyline might be too scary for a young audience, you will be relieved to know that the storyline has been trimmed short (much like the entire story as in a Junior production) and the message of the threat is still there but not traumatizing.
Overall Conejo Players‘ Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Jr. is a win from start to finish! The cast is strong and heartwarming, the junior version of the show retains the humor from the original, and families will be thoroughly entertained for the winning price of $10 a ticket.
Show: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Jr.
Location: Conejo Players Theatre, 351 S. Moorpark Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91361
Dates: 21-29 September 2019
Tickets: $10 General Admission, Sold at the box office or online
Running Time: 60 minutes, no intermission
Disclaimer: I received my ticket comped for review purposes but all opinions are my own.