BROS Musical Productions will take to the stage and skies when they bring Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to the Regis Centre stage from Tuesday to Saturday, May 21-25 at 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Saturday mat.
They are one of a select number of companies being allowed to tackle the musical which is based on the beloved 1968 film version of Ian Fleming’s children’s book.
Director Kate Bennett said: “The rights holders are quite strict with the big shows like Chitty. I think it is to do with not wanting to flood the market. You have to go through a selection process.
“You have to apply to apply to do it. You have to apply by a certain date to get permission to apply to do it. We got through the first stage and they said that they were happy for us to apply. You have to fill in a horrendously-long form. A lot of it is to do with the venue and the seating and the ticket prices. They take a percentage of the box office.
“It is getting more and more difficult to choose shows. We did Sister Act last May and it was a question of how do you follow Sister Act which was a massive success for us. It’s a really difficult process. It is a question of trying to find a show that you think is going to please the audience alongside pleasing the company. Chitty cropped up at the last moment when we were thinking of shows, saying ‘We don’t want to do this’ and ‘We don’t want to do that’, and so we jumped on it. It is a fact that shows that involve children will sell better than shows that don’t. We have got two teams of 16 children that will alternate, 32 children in all. The show is a massive undertaking. Interestingly it is not that difficult a show to stage for the actors. What makes it difficult is the technical side – and the car! You have to have the car! Somebody said ‘You aren’t going to have a car, are you? You will just have a cardboard cut-out?’ But, no, you have to have the car.
“The car in the film is 16-foot long. The car we have got for the show is not far short of that. You can’t drive it on the road. It is not roadworthy, but it is a beautiful thing that comes with care instructions and lots of polish! It travels around the country. The man hires it out. The last production it went to locally was Portsmouth at the Kings last November. I think it is now somewhere in the Midlands. We have insured it for quite a sizeable sum of money.”
And yes, it will fly – or appear to, thanks to hydraulics. All part of the fun of the show.
“It is a nice story, and everybody knows it. The songs are popular, and they are all well known. I went to see three productions last year and the audience just love it. There is such a fondness for the film. Everyone knows the film.”
And it is the quality of the show that means Karen and BROS are happy to take an inevitable loss on the show: “It is a considerable investment for the company. I would think it is costing us in the region of £38,000, and we won’t recoup that on the box office. We are looking at a loss and we are accepting that we will make a loss because it is worth doing the show, a show that the audiences love. For us, it is a labour of love.
“I think the loss will be in the region of £3,000 to £4,000. It is not terrible. It is not going to bankrupt us. We wouldn’t be doing it if it was going to bankrupt us. But I don’t believe that we should have money sitting looking pretty in the bank. We are here to put on shows, hopefully to attract audiences and give the audiences a good time in the theatre. That’s our reason for existing.”
Tickets from the venue.