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Interview with Thom Southerland (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang)

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang arrives in Milton Keynes Theatre from 2 July to 7 July as part of a 2024-25 UK Tour. We spoke with its Director, Thom Southerland, about this new production and what audiences can expect from it.

 

What can you tell us about the brand-new Chitty Chitty Bang Bang tour?

 

It’s been over 20 years since Chitty Chitty Bang Bang first premiered at the London Palladium and we are now bringing a brand-new production of this well-loved story to stage. For me, Chitty is like an old friend. I used to watch it as a child and was in fact in the audience at the very first preview of the Palladium production, so it’s a show that has always stuck with me and it now feels very special to be putting my own stamp on it.

 

Ian Fleming wrote the book over 50 years ago and this will be an amalgamation of his original story, the film version by Roald Dahl, and the previous stage production.

 

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang will be familiar to a lot of people coming to see the show, how will you be bringing a fresh look to such a beloved show?

 

Although this is a story that is very well-known and loved by audiences, there are also aspects of the original story which are lesser known and which we will be showcasing in our version. Of course, our show will still have all the wonderful parts that we remember from the film. Caractacus Potts will still have his bamboo stick to dance to Me Ol’Bamboo, and we will be dancing through Scrumptious’s Sweet Factory to Toot Sweets, but we will also be bringing something that feels fresh and new within this story and have even added some new songs.

 

One thing we definitely won’t be changing, though, is Chitty herself. She will be as spectacular as ever and I can’t wait to see her take flight.

 

What do you hope the audiences will take away from the production?

 

I really hope that when people come to see Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, they simply enjoy a wonderful evening at the theatre. This is a wildly entertaining show which all the family can enjoy. It has beautifully lavish sets and costumes, phenomenal special effects and, in my opinion, one of the greatest musical scores ever written.

 

Can you describe the show in three words?

 

Chitty in three words would be extravagant, joyful and, dare I say, fantasmagorical!

 

You’ve just got into the rehearsal rooms for the brand-new tour of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, how excited are you to be working with this cast?

 

I can’t tell you how excited I am to have this team in the rehearsal room. We have a phenomenal cast, as led by Adam Garcia in the central role of Caractacus Potts, who are really helping to create a unique retelling of this story on stage.

 

I’m also very lucky to be collaborating with the creative team on this show, including Ben Cracknell in lighting, Morgan Large on sets and costumes, our sound designer Gareth Tucker, George Dyer on musical supervision, and Karen Bruce who has been doing wonderful work with the show’s choreography. It’s been a total joy being in the rehearsal room so far, and it’s been a real collaborative process with the entire team, from the creatives to our incredible cast.




 

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