By LOUISA DANIELSON
For IN|Fort Wayne publications
FORT WAYNE — “I want a lot of color with this, a lot of action, things moving,” said Doug King. Although he was referring to the costuming, the theme runs true for the entire production of “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” which opens July 27. This latest offering from the Civic Theater will be given in the Arts United Center, in downtown Fort Wayne.
“Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” is a story about a family and their flying car. The car is named Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. What started as a children’s book written by Ian Fleming was turned into a movie in the 1960s, starring Dick van Dyke and Sally Ann Howes. In 2002, it became a stage musical.
King, who is directing and choreographing the Civic Theater show, explained that this production “is very close to the movie” and he’s quite familiar with the film version. “I grew up with (the movie) … I remember being scared to death of the Child Catcher,” he chuckled during his interview.
“It should really be geared for children,” he mused, and because people of all ages come to a play, he wants to “make it enjoyable and believable for the adults (too).”
“I think the relationship of the family, the principal characters, the relationships that they build” are the best parts, King said. There are some nice, tender moments, some very humorous moments, and plenty of action happening to keep everyone interested.
When it comes to making “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” leave the ground, King affirmed that it will indeed fly. “I said we have to have this flying car for the show,” he noted. To get a real flying car — and to find inventions to fill Professor Potts’ laboratory — the Civic Theater rented items from a traveling theater production.
Over 30 actors and actresses will be part of this production. During auditions, King insisted “no heavy, dramatic solos” because he wanted to focus primarily on the character acting ability of each person. Characters also needed to be able to sing and dance. “I’m dragging the dance out of ‘em,” he laughed.
“Whenever you have Dick van Dyke as your principal, they’re going to work in some dance movements,” he explained. “Connor (who plays the Dick Van Dyke role of Professor Potts) does a very nice job with the dancing.”
And the person playing Truly Scrumptious “has a beautiful, floating voice,” he said enthusiastically.
In summing up his production, King compared it to the movie. There will be a few more songs here than there were in the film, but he estimated that audience members “should love the show if they know the movie.”