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Forty-two children, one dog and a flying car drive Lyric's 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang' to greatness



Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Saturday
Lyric Theatre
Civic Center Music Hall
201 N. Walker

Lyric Theatre continues its season with the Oklahoma premiere of the musical "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang," based on the book by Ian Fleming and the 1968 film starring Dick Van Dyke as Caractacus Potts, the eccentric inventor who creates a flying car, for which the piece is named.
When Chitty Chitty is stolen by the evil Baron Bomburst, ruler of Vulgaria, Potts and his family go on an adventure to get the car back, rescuing imperiled children along the way.

Potts is played by local actor and musician Matthew Alvin Brown, last seen on the Lyric stage in "Little Shop of Horrors" and "The Producers."

He described the work as "strange and charming."

"People say it's ... about a car, but it's more than that. It's about a family working together to make the impossible, possible. It's about teamwork. It's about a father's unconditional love. Also, there's a flying car."

The quirky part is great for Brown, but there is a challenge when taking on such an iconic role.

"Those are some pretty big shoes to fill. I had to approach this role with kid gloves, because ... well it's Dick Van Dyke. So, I've just tried to create a Caractacus of my own," Brown said. "It's been a blast finding this guy, honoring Van Dyke, but never copying him, because that's impossible."

As for what makes Potts tick, Brown thinks that the character is just trying to give his children the best life possible.

"He's all about having fun and will do anything for his kids. Some call him eccentric, but really, he's just the most loving, caring, fun father a child could have," he said.

The cast includes 42 children aged 8-14, all taking part in Lyric's three-week camp, culminating with the performance on the Civic Center stage.

"Well, you know what they say: Never work with dogs or kids. We have both," Brown said. "It's so cool to see them bouncing around, singing these songs. They are excited to be there, and it shows."

Lyric's production is directed by Ray Roderick, who adapted and "? according to Brown "? improved upon the show for the national tour.

"What's great about having a director who is also the writer, we've been creating our own version of the piece, so it really feels like our own, like it belongs to us," Brown said.

He added that "all of the elements from the film are there "? and there's a flying car!"

"The entire cast, crew and production team have really pulled out all of the stops. Technically speaking, I think this is going to be one of the most impressive shows Lyric has ever done," Brown said. "Oklahoma audiences are really in for a rare treat." "?Eric Webb


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