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Music and Lyrics by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman
Music by Special Arrangement with Sony/ATV Publishing
Adapted for the Stage by Jeremy Sams
Based on the MGM Motion Picture
Licensed Script Adapted by Ray Roderick

Artisan Center Theater

Director – C. Nicholas Morris
Stage Manager – Kenady Shope
Music Director - Richard Gwozdz
Choreographer - Emily Anderson
Costume Design - Nita Cadenhead
Prop Design - Kris Hampton
Lighting Design - Wes Taylor
Set/Scenic Design - Wendy Searcy-Woode

Photo by Al Smith
CAST (production is double cast – this is the cast from the reviewed performance)

Caractacus Potts - Noel Allen
Truly Scrumptious - Meghan Newton
Grandpa Potts - Dan Nolen, Jr.
Baron/Lord Scrumptious - C.E. Gerdes
Baroness Bomburst - Sherry Marshall
Child Catcher/Junkman/Sid - Brian Walker
Toymaker/Miss Phillips - Kayleen Cox
Boris - Michael Allen
Goran - Gabe Etheridge
Coggins - John Lattimore
Jeremy Potts - Jimmy Jones
Jemima Potts - Mayce Armstrong

Ensemble Women - Amber Cross, Sara Grace Prejean, Maddie Norwood, Kayleen Cox
Ensemble Men - Caleb Turner, David Sikorski, Rick Sterling, Greg Stancil

Toby - Caleb Pfeffer
Stephen - Matthew Jones
Greta - Katie Pfeffer
Susan - Naysa Kamau

Reviewed Performance: 6/17/2016

Reviewed by Eric A. Maskell, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN

The story of Ian Fleming’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang centers around an inventor, Caractacus Potts, and his two children, Jemima and Jeremy. Jemima and Jeremy become enamored with a broken down ex-racing car that they play with at a junkyard. When the owner, Coggins, decides to sell the car, Jemima and Jeremy beg their father to purchase the vehicle. Through a series of events Potts purchases and rebuilds the car. Unbeknownst to Potts, however, is the fact that the Baron of Vulgaria wants the car for its rumored fantastic abilities. The Baron sends his minions Boris and Goran to bring the car back no matter the cost.

Costume design by Nita Cadenhead was well done. The common outfits of the characters were true to the time period while the elegant ball gown of the Baroness was bold and enchanting.

The set/scenic design by Wendy Searcy-Woode was sound. The revolving stage that allowed for beneficial use of the corner, granting both an internal and external view of the Toy Shoppe was innovative. Additionally, I thought the steampunk/clockwork painting of the walls of the theater added a nice inventor’s flare. The highlight, of course, was the car. The scaled version of the car was masterfully crafted to give you both the look and feel of the movie version of the car but fit perfectly within the confines of the stage.

Music direction by Richard Gwozdz was perfectly in tune with the story and flowed effortlessly throughout the theater.

Unfortunately, the choreography by Emily Anderson was a bit choppy and not well tuned. The majority of the dances seemed uninspired and clunky. Several of the ensemble seemed lost in their direction. I was very disappointed in the choreography of the “The Roses of Success”. The inventors that were there to help Grandpa Potts seemed more of a hindrance to the moment than anything else. The impression I got was that the song was to be more akin to a Marx Brothers comedic performance but fell flat.

Noel Allen did an excellent job as Caractacus Potts. His singing was extraordinary and his acting superb. Allen was wonderful at demonstrating his emotional connections to Jemima and Jeremy. Allen was also very adept at singing. His rendition of “Me Ol’ Bamboo” was upbeat and a delight to watch as he and the ensemble spun and danced around the theater.

Meghan Newton as truly Scrumptious was wonderful. Meghan’s singing is top notch. Meghan sang “Lovely, Lonely Man” perfectly. Her sweeping refrains and thoughtful tones were heartfelt.

Dan Nolen, Jr. did an amazing job as Grandpa Potts. His singing was superb and his quirkiness was felt in the way he carried himself as the eccentric patriarch of the Potts family. Dan was able to be both comedic and serious in his role. His singing in “Posh” with Jemima and Jeremy was heartfelt and filled with emotion and warmth while his singing in “The Roses of Success” was more lighthearted and comedic.

Mayce Armstrong did a great job as Jemima Potts. Her facial expressions were true to the events whether she was smiling at the flying car or screaming for help when the Child Catcher abducted her. Mayce has a strong singing voice and held her own even during the duets and ensemble pieces.

Jimmy Jones was excellent as Jeremy Potts. His singing was well done, the words were enunciated perfectly and his voice was not lost in the sea of other singers. Jimmy’s acting was good as well. He was very personable as the youngest of the Potts children. However, perhaps due to being a young actor or lack of direction, often times he would look to Ms. Armstrong for cues.

A highlight of the show was Michael Allen as Boris and Gabe Etheridge as Goran. The two performers had a quirky chemistry as the Vulgarian spy duo that seemed to endear them to the audience. The duet “Act English” was hilariously acted and superbly sung. The increasing cadence of the song and the choreography of the dance seemed difficult yet the two flawlessly executed it.

Sherry Marshall was amazing as Baroness Bomburst. Her accent was perfect and her comedic acting was both outlandish and endearing. Sherry’s singing was a joy to experience.

C.E. Gerdes had a dual role as Baron and Lord Scrumptious. Gerdes did a great job as Lord Scrumptious; however as the Baron I was less impressed. As the Baron, Gerdes accent seemed misplaced and often times missing. Additionally, the depiction of the character seemed a bit dim-witted and slow. Gerdes singing was phenomenal but the acting seemed a bit strained.

Kayleen Cox was great as the Toymaker. Kayleen demonstrated compassion and emotion when she led Potts into the sewers of Vulgaria to see the rescued children.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is the perfect whimsical sing along romp through the countryside. With its rousing musical score and endearing storyline there is no better way than to spend an evening with this fantabulous, fantasmagorical adventure. The Artisan Center Theater did an amazing job with this classic. The music, lighting and singing coupled with the lighthearted acting provided an upbeat and hilarious evening. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang we love you.

Artisan Center Theater, 418 E. Pipeline Road, Hurst, Texas 76053
Runs through July 30th

Monday/Tuesday/Thursday/Friday/Saturday evening at 7:30 pm, and Saturday matinee at 3:00 pm For tickets and information please call 817-284-1200 or go to