LIHUE — Kenna Shafter hadn’t planned on auditioning for the Hawaii Children’s Theatre’s production of “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.”
Then, director Carol Culver approached her. That got her thinking about the popular 1968 musical movie she watched and loved as a kid and that maybe she should try for the role “Truly Scumptious.”
“In that moment it kind of all came back,” Shafter said. “I used to look up to this beautiful woman in the movie and think, I want to sing like her.”
Shafter landed that coveted part and will be in the cast when Chitty opens at 7 tonight at Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall.
Besides the super sets, cool costumes and amazing acting, Shafter offered one more great reason to buy a ticket.
“If you’ve ever seen the movie, you know there’s a lot that goes on,” she said. “There’s a flying car. How do you do that on stage? You’ll find out if you come to the show.”
Play organizers asked TGI not to include any pictures of the flying car to keep it a surprise for the audience.
The two-hour and 15-minute production is directed and choreographed by Culver. It tells the tale of brother and sister Jeremy and Jemima Potts, Truly Scrumptious who falls for their widowed father, Caractacus Potts, and, of course, the magical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. There’s also the bad guy, Baron Bomburst, who wants the flying car and will do almost anything to get it.
“I fell in love with the movie,” Culver said. “It’s something different. It has a car that flies and floats and drives. It is something you’ve never seen on the stage of Kauai before and it’s really fun.”
There is a song in the movie called, “Teamwork,” and that exemplifies the efforts of the cast and crew, she said.
“We have a whole lot of people who brought their talents and energy and creativity together, and that’s what makes the show really magic,” she said.
Jarhett Gaines, who plays Caractacus Potts, watched the movie that featured Dick Van Dyke in the lead role when he was a boy.
“I wanted to do this role since I was like five or six,” he said. “The ridiculousness of this flying car in the middle of this story has always attracted me to it.”
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is packed with imagination that brings to life crazy characters and silly situations.
“And it has a car that does all the things kids wish a car could do,” Gaines said.
Simon Oyama plays Jeremy Potts and Isabella Bivens plays Jemima Potts. Oyama said he had never seen the movie, while Bivens said she has watched it many times.
Both are a little nervous about opening night but confident once the curtain opens, they’ll be ready.
“It’s all about having fun,” Bivens said. “You see Chitty coming out, and it’s like, it actually moves. It’s a miracle, really.”
The show runs 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 4 p.m. Sundays through Nov. 26. Tickets are $15 general admission, $12 students/seniors and under three are free.
A special benefit performance is scheduled Sunday. Admission is $6 with a donation for food banks.