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First Night: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

I had to take a second glance at the playbill before last night's showing of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the Grand Canal Theatre last night.

I had to take a second glance at the playbill before last night's showing of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the Grand Canal Theatre last night.

Barbara Broccoli is named as a producer. The Barbara Broccoli. Of the James Bond franchise.

Barbara is the daughter of the late Albert R 'Cubby' Broccoli, who produced the first 17 Bond films and the film version of Chitty. Fans will also know that Chitty and Bond share the same author, Ian Fleming.

There were no Aston Martins or Bentleys in last night's performance, but the "fine, four-fendered friend" does indeed fly (how, I do not know).

And in true Broccoli style, the production budget came in at an eye-watering €7.3m, with the flying car alone costing €890,000.

It shows. Anthony Ward's set and costume design is a flight of the imagination. The lavish backdrops, candy-coloured costumes and intricate props show that no expense was spared.

His piece de resistance was the gothic reimagining of the Child Catcher (Dean Maynard). Carrying a child-size scythe and dressed in Burton-esque sweeping black leather coat, skin-tight pants and top hat bedecked with feathers, he was preternaturally creepy and a damn sight scarier than the film version.

There were many moments that rivalled the film. The Doll on a Music Box scene, played to perfection by Katie Ray as Truly Scrumptious, seemed even more impressive when it was performed with no second takes or camera trickery.

Rousing renditions of Toot Sweets, Me Ol' Bamboo and, of course, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, delighted the crowd.

This isn't to say the show is only for the young and the young at heart -- there were plenty of "adult-only" jokes.

Vulgaria is obviously modelled on Holocaust Germany with the Baroness enthusing that she can "invade small, neighbouring countries for no apparent reason".

Seeing Broccoli's name on the playbill made me baulk, but this production retained all that was magical about the original while giving it a much-needed modern edge.

www.grandcanaltheatre.ie


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