‘The way the world is, I think a silly evening in the theatre is a good thing,
to take our minds off terror’ – Tim Curry
I am a very fortunate man. The older I get, the more fortunate I realise my childhood was, especially when it came to the arts. Although my parents weren’t involved in creating art directly, they ensured that I was constantly exposed to it.
Now, I’m not exactly sure when my first West End performance was, or what it was. All I know is that I have been fortunate enough to have seen plenty of shows there. In fact, I once tried to make a list of all the pieces of theatre I have seen and just ended up completely lost because not only have I seen them all over the country, but because every single London show that has a UK tour ends up coming to my hometown – Milton Keynes.
Before I begin, I understand that I am a little bit late to the party. The UK tour of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, starring Lee Mead and Carrie Hope Fletcher as Caractacus Potts and Truly Scrumptious, first hit the stage a week ago on Wednesday 4th May. I was amongst the ones lucky enough to be in the audience that night.
One of the most exciting things about being in the audience waiting for it all to begin was seeing the variety of ages that were present, from the young children sat behind me. And why shouldn’t there be? For whatever reason, CCBB is timeless. In the original film, Dick van Dyke’s performance is one that transcends time. Classic’s like Me Ol’ Bamboo and Toot Sweets inspire joy, whilst not knowing the chorus to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (the song that draws its name from Ian Fleming’s fantasmagorical machine) would leave you in a minority.
Clearly then, this cast had a big billing to live up too.
Entering its 17th year, Beyond the Barricadedubs itself as a ‘musical theatre concert tour’, where a quartet of former Les Miserables principle cast members deliver a show filled with hits from a score of West End shows. However in my opinion, it was more akin to a tasting menu at a restaurant than anything else.
With songs from 14 of the biggest and best musicals to have ever graced London’s West End there was something for everyone, but despite this the overall experience was disjointed and underwhelming. Aside from the odd moment here and there it was really difficult to get into and in the end I found myself willing for it to finish, which wasn’t fair on either the performers or the musicians involved.
That was my issue with the whole evening, everything was an “almost” or a “nearly” but not quite there.