Magical ride awaits with HCT’s musical

  • Bill Buley/The Garden Island

    Travis Williamson prepares in the dressing room for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

A magical car that floats and flies is sure to grab plenty of attention and applause.

“Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” does exactly that in the musical by Hawaii Children’s Theatre. It’s a wonder as it drives past green pastures, hovers over water and mist and even soars with the stars. It really is worth shouting about and you shouldn’t miss your last chance to see it this weekend.

But you know what?

The acting, the singing and the dancing in this production are just as good as that amazing vehicle. Some of the scenes are mesmerizing, breath-taking and a sheer delight. This is musical directed and choreographed by Carol Culver is one of the best to grace the stage of the Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall. Clever and creative. It really is that good, and we would be remiss if we didn’t encourage everyone to go to one of the final three shows, which are at 7 tonight and Saturday, and 4 p.m. Sunday. It will leave you singing and smiling and just feeling good, perhaps like you, too, can fly.

While there is a cast of talented dancers and singers throughout, the musical rests on the shoulders of several key characters. Jarhett Gaines plays Caractacus Potts, the brilliant inventor. Kenna Shafter (Ella Marcil, understudy, performs three nights) plays Truly Scrumptious, who falls for him after a rough start. Isabella Bivens and Simon Oyama play the children, Jemima and Jeremy Potts (double cast roles. Travis Williamson and Abby Winters play these parts on some nights).

Others who shine in the spotlight include Taj Gutierrez as Baron Bomburst, Saphne Sanchez as the Baroness and Jim Warrack as Grandpa Warrack.

Bivens and Oyama are the ideal children. Innocent, sweet, and seeking adventure. They hold their own. Bivens’ smile is quite captivating.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang starts slowly and builds steam. While act one is great, act two is even better, brilliant at times.

The song and dance to “The Roses of Success” by Warrack and a team of children dressed up as old men inventors wearing white coats, beards and wigs is fresh and funny. It’s sure to be one of the favorites of the audience. Warrack’s jig, you could call it, is charming, and he plays the part of the eccentric grandpa perfectly.

“Bombie Samba” featuring Gutierrez and Sanchez gives both their best chance to show off their talents and they deliver. Gutierrez is naturally humorous and engaging, and has a surprisingly strong voice, while Sanchez twirls and whirls, flits and dips, while displaying powerful vocals that fill the hall.

Every dancer in the Samba scene lights up the stage.

We don’t want to spoil things for those who haven’t seen it, so we’ll just say that one of the final scenes, “Doll on a Music Box,” is beautiful and honestly, spellbinding. It’s that good. This scene showcases the fine singing of both Shafter and Gaines, but even more, it spotlights their physical abilities. Shafter as the music box doll somehow stands perfectly still until wound up and her movements are delicate, graceful, precise, just what you expect from a ballerina. And Gaines, as the clown, clumsily lumbers from a box, stumbles and bounds around the stage and you think, how is he doing that without falling flat on his face? How do you rehearse this? He seamlessly goes from awkward to elegant.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang will take you on a magical ride.



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