I was at the last night in Milton Keynes, slightly nervous as I've loved the film since I first saw it in the cinema as a child, but I needn't have worried - I was utterly enchanted, even when the show came to a halt almost as soon as it started as only one child appeared from the wings to join Lee on stage...
The last-minute indisposition of young Daisy Riddett meant a short halt for the car to be recalibrated for new passenger weights, then it was announced that the role of Jemima would be played by Alex Bird, who I last saw in the Wicked ensemble during Lee's time as Fiyero! She did an absolutely cracking job, as did the cast around her, especially young Aaron Gelkoff as Jeremy.
Lee's Caractacus was spot on! His wonderfully natural connection with the children (even the 27 year old one!) was totally believable. I knew he'd have no problems vocally, and 'Hushabye Mountain' was as beautiful as I'd hoped from a man who is able to instil such feeling into a simple lyric. But the real revelation was his dancing - 'Me Ol' Bamboo' is fast-paced, challenging choreography and he has to get it right while appearing not to have a clue what he's doing... he totally nailed it!
Carrie Hope Fletcher's voice is beautiful, her Truly feistier than I recall from the film. I loved Sam Harrison's and Scott Paige's spies - their comic timing is immaculate - while Michelle Collins and Shaun Williamson made their Baron/Baroness parts as funny as I'm ever likely to find their bits of the story. Andy Hockley seems to draw inspiration from Uncle Albert for his fabulous Caractacus Snr and Matt Gillett is wonderfully sinister as the Child Catcher.
Round all that off with an incredibly hard-wording and talented ensemble, a wonderful bunch of sewer kids and an excellent orchestra led by Andrew Hilton and you have a hugely entertaining, feel-good show which left me beaming from ear to ear.
Wow! What a wonderful show - I loved everything about it. It was fun and bright and full of energy, and then amid all that colour, there were the most beautiful moments of stillness - Lee Mead capturing perfectly the loneliness of widowed Caractacus. I remember him from the TV show a few years ago and it was great to finally see him on stage - he has such a fantastic voice and was so believable, especially with the children.
I loved the big dance numbers - Lee was so funny in Me Old Bamboo, and the samba number at the Baron's birthday party was brilliant. The whole cast was excellent - from the incredibly hard-working ensemble to the charming Potts children and the urchins in the sewers, with special mention for a splendidly sinister child-catcher. He terrified me when I was little, and there was a definite shiver whenever he appeared.
And last but not least, there was Chitty - so cleverly done, from wreck to "fine four-fendered friend", the effects were so good. All in all, a highly recommended show - I enjoyed it so much, I've booked to see it again in Sheffield!