Rocky O'Brien & Rodgers Confirm for Chitty CastDate: 18 October 2001
Richard O'Brien will return to the West End to star in the upcoming West End musical production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The musical, which will also feature Anton Rodgers amongst a planned all-star cast, is due to receive its world premiere at the London Palladium on 16 April 2002 (previews from 19 March).
O'Brien, who will play the Child Catcher, is best-known as the creator of rock musical, The Rocky Horror Show. Inspired by his childhood love schlock sci-fi films, Rocky Horror premiered at the Royal Court in 1973 and later spawned the 1975 cult film, starring Susan Sarandon. The musical celebrated its 25th anniversary in 1998 with a Jubilee tour of the UK, touching down briefly in the West End.
As an actor, O'Brien's other musical stage credits include Hair and Jesus Christ Superstar. He has also developed a niche as a character actor in films such as Flash Gordon, Shock Treatment and Dark City. He's also familiar to British TV audiences as the host of the long-running game show, The Crystal Maze.
Anton Rodgers' many stage credits include How the Other Half Lives, Time of My Life, Beyond a Joke, Songbook, for which he won an Olivier award for Best Actor, and most recently, Under the Doctor. Rodgers, who will play Grandpa in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, has also appeared in more than 20 TV series and numerous dramas including Fresh Fields and Noah's Ark.
Casting continues for the rest of the company - estimated to be over 40-strong, including 20 children - and speculation about other appointments has been feverish. Michael Ball, Julie Alanah Brighten and Janie Dee have all been mentioned in conjunction with the show, though the last is unlikely to be available with a planned West End transfer of her Chichester hit, My One and Only, coming up.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is adapted by Jeremy Sams and directed by RSC artistic director Adrian Noble, with original music by the Sherman brothers, who will be adding to their movie score for the stage production. Full casting details are expected to be announced shortly.
The book, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, was written by Ian Fleming and originally published in hardback in three parts. The story concerns a madcap inventor named Caractacus Potts, a widower who delights in eccentric gadgets. He sets about restoring an old car from a scrap heap with the help of his two children, and a lady friend named Truly Scrumptious. However, when the car develops magical properties it comes under the evil eye of Baron Bomburst.
The story was turned into a hugely popular movie in 1968, starring Dick Van Dyke and Sally Ann Howes. The Sherman brothers, Richard M and Robert B, were Oscar-nominated for the title song. The producer was Albert R Broccoli and the director was Ken Hughes. Children's writer Roald Dahl adapted James Bond-creator Fleming's text for the screenplay.
- by Terri Paddock