Less than a month after it premiered on Broadway, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang has posted closing notices in the West End. The £6.2 million London production, based on the famous 1968 children's film, had its world premiere at the Palladium on 16 April 2002 (previews from 19 March) and will now finish on 4 September 2005, at the end of its current booking period, ahead of a national tour kicking off at the end of the year.

The musical’s three-and-a-half years in the West End constitutes the longest-ever run at the London Palladium, where it has been seen by more than three million people and taken more than £70 million at the box office.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang tells the story of happy-go-lucky inventor Caractacus Potts who, along with Truly Scrumptious and his two children, become caught up in an adventure involving an eerie Childcatcher and a highly strung Baron willing to stop at nothing to get his hands on Potts’ eponymous flying car.

The production currently stars Brian Conley as Caractacus and Alvin Stardust as the Childcatcher. They finish their 14-week contracts on 18 June 2005. From 21 June until the conclusion of the show’s run, Jason Donovan will return to the role of Caractacus. The cast also features Jo Gibb (Truly Scrumptious) and Tony Adams (Grandpa Potts).

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is adapted by Jeremy Sams with original music by the Sherman brothers, whose songs include “Hushabye Mountain”, “Toot Sweets”, “Me ‘Ol Bam-boo” and the title song. The production is directed by former Royal Shakespeare Company artistic director Adrian Noble, choreographed by Gillian Lynne and designed by Whatsonstage.com Award winner Anthony Ward. The original children's book, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, was written by Ian Fleming.

The Broadway production opened at New York’s Hilton Theatre (formerly the Ford Center for the Performing Arts) on 28 April 2005 (previews from 29 March). Last week, it was nominated for five of this year’s Tony Awards (See News, 10 May 2005). The UK tour will open at Sunderland Empire on 9 December 2005.

- by Terri Paddock