Oh You Pretty Chitty Bang Bang

Last sunday I went to Sheffield to see Chitty Chitty Bang Bang live on stage. It’s a show I’ve wanted to see ever since I went through a hardcore Dick van Dyke phase – hello! He’s the Harrison Ford of children’s movies! He’s not in the show, of course, but he starred in the 1968-movie, and that was reason enough for me to get into it.

The story is about the inventor Caractacus Potts and his two young children, Jeremy and Jemima, whose super-fast car, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (because that’s the sound it makes!), is the object of desire of Vulgaria’s Baron Bomburst. When the Baron kidnaps Granpa Potts the Potts family comes to his rescue, along with the beautiful Truly Srumptious – but arriving in Vulgaria they find out that the Baron and his wife detest children and that Jeremy and Jemima are in great danger of being abducted by the hideous Child Catcher.

'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang' Tour

I am really not a cars kind of person, but the story just had me. It’s bit like Grease for children. And I’ll admit the first time they started the car and it made this awful sound, my mind went straight into thinking, THAT’S AIR POLLUTION! SAVE THE ENVIRONMENT! But then how could I resist a car that only runs when you say «PLeeeeaaaase!»

Only how you convince a child after seeing the show that the Child Catcher is not real, I shall never know. He seemed pretty convincing to me, and whenever his track comes up on my iPod i press skip. Eergh, everytime I hear him go «Childreeeeen!» I physically shudder.

'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang' Tour

To say I enjoyed the show is a slight understatement. I absolutely loved it! It’s weird and loud and bright, and oh my, the costumes! Unlike the film, the show is set in a post-World-War-I era, so everything’s a bit more colourful and funky. What I was most impressed with, though, were the child actors. Lucy and Henry, who played the roles of Jemima and Jeremy Potts, were in every way a delight to look at! They played their parts so well and with so much heart. I simply cannot imagine the effort the producers of the show had to put into training these kids – how do you get them to stay concentrated, and how do you prevent them from forgetting their lines in stage fright? They have to act and sing and dance, sometimes everything at once, and yet they didn’t screw up once.

Everytime I watch a live musical I am freshly impressed by the actors. They’re all professionals, so as well I should be of course – but they never cease to amaze me. Lee Mead and Carrie Hope Fletcher make such a wonderful pair with their curly hair and quirkie costumes, and they make it incredibly hard to imagine any other actor taking over the role. Actually, Carrie Fletcher could just change her name to Truly Scrumptious and pull it off. You look at her and think, Hang on – she’s not the candy maker’s daughter?!

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This show makes me consider getting my driver’s licence just so I’d be legally allowed to steer a flying car! If you have the chance to see the show, please go watch it! What a happy time you’ll spend! It’s beautifully done, it’s laugh-out-loud funny, and it’s romantic – it’s everthing I need in a stage production; blast it, it’s everything I need in life!

All the pictures featured in this post I downloaded from the musical’s website!

Something to do with Kindness

A few days ago I watched a video by Carrie Hope Fletcher in which she describes her experiences at stage door. Given the recent events I felt that it would be wrong not to talk about this.

Carrie is an actress and is currently performing in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. In the video she talks about all the abuse that she has been given when leaving the theatre through stage door – from people physically harming her to enthusiastic fans taking away her things –, and the abuse she has been sent via social media upon not appearing at stage door at all.

The situation we currently live in appears to be one where abuse is not such a horrendous word any more, because it has become an everyday phenomenon. It has not even been two weeks since a man walked into a gay night club in Orlando and shot fifty people dead. It’s been eight months since a hundred and thirty people were killed in Paris. Three months ago more than thirty people died in a terror attack in Brussels. Two weeks ago Christina Grimmie was shot by a madman with a gun. And this is just concentrating on incidents happening in the western hemisphere.

I realise that none of these things are linked in any direct way to what Carrie Fletcher is going through. But somehow I also don’t think that there is no connection at all. I doubt that any oft he people waiting for her outside the theatre were or are members of Islamic terrorist organisations. But what I do believe is that the people who join IS or Boko Haram or who go off hurting and killing others on their own accord, those people once waited outside theatres and concert halls to meet their idols too. Those are the same people who would try and kiss someone against their will, who shout angrily when things don’t go their way – those people once could not bear to be rejected.

I’m saying this because I know that members of terrorist groups are not all African or Turks, they are Swiss, German, French and Dutch. They are people who grew up in the same surroundings we did, but who did not feel accepted, who were hurt and did not belong anywhere. And if that’s how you feel all the time, then why not punish your idol for not turning up (when she did all the other nights for all those other people). If that’s how you feel, then why not pull her hair, just to feel it – what harm will it do to you? If you’re a homosexual moslem and were never allowed to feel what you really feel, why not take that anger out on those who live the life you could have had. Your life is hardly a life, so why not destroy theirs?

There is never a reason not to be civil.

Please let that sink in. Even the stinkiest little twit deserves to be treated as a person. Bullies are usually bullied by somebody else, and the only way to break the circle is by being civil. People who shut out others shut themselves in. People who make others feel weak don’t feel strong enough. We will make the world infinitely better if we open our hearts and allow for life to come in. If we just believe to be good enough. There is never a reason not to be civil.

I went to see Les Misérables in London last August. We had some time after the show, so we went outside to stand in line at stage door. Carrie didn’t come out, and that was fine. All I wanted to do was thank her for being an inspiration. I just wanted to tell her that sometimes it is her that makes me want to finish what I started. I didn’t really care about autographs or photographs, and when she didn’t come, Inga and I went out for a drink.

What I want to say is this: Sometimes things don’t go according to plan and sometimes we are disappointed and angry – but so long as we allow that energy to flow through us we are standing only one step away from where a young man with a gun is standing. So smile. Have a drink. Watch Tangled. Hug your mum. Believe that you are good enough.

There is never a reason not to be civil.

Lots of love from the roots of my heart!
xxx