The Journal Gazette
Friday, July 26, 2019 1:00 am

'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang' takes flight at Civic

COREY MCMAKEN | The Journal Gazette

Do you believe a car can fly? You might while watching Civic Theatre's production of “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.”

The show is based on the 1968 movie, which starred Dick Van Dyke as eccentric inventor Caractacus Potts who restores an old race car with the help of his children. As you might expect from a magical car, the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang can fly through the air and float on water. The Potts family joins up with Truly Scrumptious, the daughter of a sweets factory owner, to outwit a villainous baron, baroness and their henchman, the Child Catcher.

Director and choreographer Doug King says he is a fan of the movie and remembers being terrified by the Child Catcher in the film. The story in the stage production is almost identical to the movie, which poses some challenges when it comes to the more fantastical elements. What works in a movie with green screens and animation has to be translated to the stage.

“Things have to be figured out in a way that actually works in front of people, and every night,” King says.

Civic Theatre rented the titular prop for the show, and the car actually lifts off the ground and moves. Partially controlled by offstage remote, some other functions such as the wings, wheels and blowing air are operated by actors in the vehicle.

“As we were choreographing some of it the other day, I got to sit in it ... and it was fun,” King says.

He says he hopes the audience comes with a child-like approach to enjoy the G-rated fantasy adventure.

The cast includes a number of fresh faces for Civic Theatre, including Cassandra Petrie as Truly Scrumptious. Petrie is returning to the area after earning her master of music degree in vocal performance and literature from the University of Illinois this spring. This fall, she will be teaching at Warsaw Community High School.

Petrie says preparing for this show has been a lot of fun. After all, it isn't every show where the cast gets to fly.

“Not only do we get to have Chitty in the show, but we have lots of other amazing machines that are in the show,” she says. “I have never been a part of a show that has had so many things that I get to be a part of while on stage.

Conner Johnson stars as Caractacus, Ranať Rogers is Jemima and Brenner Newsom is Jeremy. Paul R. Faulkner and Bobbi Jo Carroll are the baron and baroness.

Petrie says the cast is dedicated to making the show a great experience for the audience.

“'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang' is a really well known show and I know everybody in the cast is working really, really hard to ensure that we won't disappoint anybody and their wonderful memories of the movie,” she says.

The show opens Saturday and runs through Aug. 11.

If you go

What: “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Aug. 2, 3, 9 and 10; 2 p.m. Sunday and Aug. 4 and 11

Where: Arts United Center, 303 E. Main St.

Admission: $33 adults, $28 seniors, $20 ages 23 and younger; 424-5220 or

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