By PAM HARBAUGH
When deciding on a season, the folks at Cocoa Village Playhouse thought a feel-good, family-friendly production would be perfect for the holidays. But they wanted something fresh.
They came up with the musical “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” which has been so popular this rushed holiday season that CVP has extended it through Dec. 11.Director Anastacia Hawkins-Smith says it’s been a group effort, from the decision to mount it on through to its production. And, she says, it’s a great show for everyone: The children will be charmed by the story of a young father and his two children flying car and the adults will get some good giggles that, like that car, fly figuratively over the children’s heads.
I hope you note that word “figuratively,” because, unlike the London production which spent $2 million on a flying car, the CVP car doesn’t actually sail over the audience or even over the stage. Instead, as Ms. Hawkins-Smith points out, it’s all an illusion using robotics and a rear projections that give you the sense that you’re flying over the English countryside or swooping over Bulgaria.
Laughter also comes courtesy two dastardly spies intent on stealing the car for a Bulgarian Count.
“The super spies are hilarious,” Ms. Hawkins-Smith says. “I find it so interesting that Ian Fleming (of ‘James Bond’ fame) wrote the book…It’s fun to hear the audiences laugh. Oh my goodness, they’re just chuckling and outright laughing.”
And, of course, there is that cozy message so befitting of the holidays: “This fun message of teamwork, family, and that even as an adult, you can believe in a flying car that rescues Grandpa.”
The musical was adapted for the stage by Jeremy Sams and based on the 1968 movie with music and lyrics by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman (“Mary Poppins”) and based on the children’s book by Ian Fleming.
The Cocoa Village Playhouse production features: Mitchel Burns (Caractacus Potts), Emily Deruelle (Truly Scrumptious), Gene Hayes (Grandpa Potts), Anderson Law (Jeremy Potts), Katie Hjortsberg (Jemima Potts), Michael Law (Baron Bomburst), Erica Garcia (Baroness Bomburst), Chris Waterman (Boris), Edwin Hill (Goran), Benjamin Jackson (The Childcatcher) and Jake Lenhart (The Toymaker).
SIDE O’ GRITS: “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” runs through Dec. 11 at Cocoa Village Playhouse, 300 Brevard Ave., Cocoa. Curtain is 7:30 p.m. Thursday (Dec. 3), Fridays, Saturdays and 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Tickets are $18 to $29. Call 321-636-5050 or visit CocoaVillagePlayhouse.com.