Edward Petherbridge will join the star-studded line-up in the world premiere production of stage musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which opens at the West End's London Palladium on 16 April 2002 (previews from 19 March).

Petherbridge, who will play 'The Toymaker/Coggins', will appear alongside already-announced principals: Michael Ball (as Caractacus Potts), Anton Rodgers (Grandpa Potts), [Brian Blessed (The Baron), Nichola McAuliffe (The Baroness), Richard O'Brien (The Childcatcher) and 18-year-old newcomer Emma Williams (Truly Scrumptious).

A respected stage veteran, Petherbridge is best known for his non-musical roles. His many theatre credits include Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, The Way of the World, Tartuffe, Nicholas Nickleby (for which he won a Critics' Circle award), Cyrano de Bergerac, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Cymbeline, Hamlet, Strange Interlude (for which he won an Olivier), Krapp's Last Tape, The Accused and, last year, the National's production of The Relapse.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, based on the 1968 film, follows the adventures of madcap inventor Caractacus Potts. Caractacus, a widower who delights in eccentric gadgets, 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 attracts the evil attention of Baron Bomburst.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is adapted by Jeremy Sams with original music by the Sherman brothers, directed by RSC artistic director Adrian Noble and designed by Anthony Ward, with lighting by Mark Henderson, sound by Andrew Bruce, orchestrations and dance arrangements by Chris Walker, and musical direction and supervision by Robert Scott. The book, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, was written by Ian Fleming and originally published in hardback in three parts.

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.

Also in the nearly 50-strong Chitty cast are Helen Baker, Julie Barnes, Leo Bidwell, Peter Bishop, Darren Carnall, Stuart Chaffer, Ben Clare, Lisa Cook, Phyllida Crowley Smith, Ray C Davis, Ross Dawes, Steve Elias, Darren Ja Fawthrop, Nia Fisher, Ben Garner, Jocelyn Hawkyard, Emma Hennigan, David Henry, Graham Hoadly, Maria Holley, Nic Ineson, Nicholas Johnson, Bret Jones, Emma Kerslake, Robert Kramer, David Lee, Rory Locke, Remy Martyn, Gary Milner, Claire Morland, Liza Pullman, Matthew Rixon, David Ross, Tommi Sliiden, Scarlett Strallen, Lynsey Wise and Emil Wolk.

- by Terri Paddock