Monday, October 30, 2017

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, A Spectacular Adventure On Stage

Fantasmagorical! Yes, that is a word.  An apt description of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, now fabulously gracing the stage of Newport Performing Arts Theater at Resorts World Manila (RWM).

At the gala night, together with my partner, Monch Henares of Monchster Chronicles, we were beyond ourselves with excitement to witness one of the best English musicals ever made, and this time, performed by Filipino world-class theater artists. RWM in cooperation with Ultimate Shows, Inc. outdid themselves once again by bringing in this Ian Fleming theater production for the first time in the country, which garnered a standing ovation on gala night.

Watch YouTube video of curtain call:

Directed by no less than renowned Jaime Del Mundo, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is one of his best works to date. "Theater opens up windows and doors to the imagination, especially with will not work without imagination," said Del Mundo during his speech at the opening program of the gala night of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. (Watch the Facebook Live video of his speech here).  Artistic direction is by famous Michael Williams, and musical score by the Manila Philharmonic Orchestra under Maestro Rodel Colmenar.

Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo was just wow... effectively making the audience love her or hate her, as she magnificently portrayed the Baroness Bomburst of Vulgaria. With a barrage of awards and stage experiences in her name, Yulo is also multi-tasking as the assistant director.

Championing the Filipino talent, the cast is led by screen matinee idol and stage actor, Gian Magdangal, fresh from his outstanding stint as the lead in Newsies. Magdangal comes back to the country after three years of performing roles in Hong Kong Disneyland's The Golden Mickeys, and Mickey and the Wondrous Book, and as one of the main performers for Universal Studios in Osaka, Japan.

Gian took the role to heart, once again showcasing his voice and acting prowess as the eccentric inventor, Caractacus Potts. His love interest Truly Scrumptious is played by young, yet seasoned actress, Yanah Laurel, who was amazing in her previous musical, Kinky Boots. 

"I was very excited to get the part. I'm really a fan of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and it was a big part of my childhood," Laurel enthused. "It will appeal to Filipino audiences because it is a spectacle of a show, the music is beautiful, and for those unfamiliar, it's going to be a treat for them because every single number is a production number," added the two-time Aliw Awards Best Actress in a Musical Nominee.

True to form, we watched in awe while singing along with all the memorable tunes such as "Hush-a- bye Mountain", "Truly Scrumptious", "Doll in a Music Box", and of course, "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang", the adhesively catchy song that can't get out of our heads.

The role of the Potts children were fantastically played by Noel Comia, a two-time Aliw Awardee for Best Child Performer, who alternates with Albert Silos, who has also been cast in several stage productions in the past including RWM's The King and I, and Cinderella.

Watch YouTube video interview of the young cast:

Little Jemina Potts is played by Isabeli Araneta-Elizalde, who, like her stellar performance in Annie, amazed the audience with her voice and acting talent. By this time, she has improved her voice quality, and her talent is evident in this challenging role.  She won the Discovery of the Year Award at last year's Aliw Awards, making Elizalde one of the country's coveted young stage actresses.

Alternating as Jemima Potts is Zoey Alvarade, who herself has performed in numerous stage productions including It's a Giant World, Jewel of Antilles: Two Worlds, One Island, Seussical Jr., Wizard of Oz, and Greased Lightning.

A star-studded, seasoned cast who needs no introduction are world-class actors James Paolleli as Grandpa Potts, Raymund Concepcion as Baron Bomburst, Michael Williams as the Toymaker, and Lorenz Martinez as the Child Catcher.

Adding to the already spectacular show is the hilarious tandem of Boris and Goran, played by Mako Alonso and Reb Atadero, respectively. Their roles as the comical spies brought the house down with their funny antics and some impromptu adlibs, that only intelligent actors can deliver.

Watch YouTube video of Boris and Goran interview:

Having experienced watching some shows in Broadway, New York, Monchster and I have seen a chandelier fall above our heads, a helicopter fly on stage, and a beast magically turn into a prince, we half-expected to see the flying race car Chitty, the real star of the show, fly. But then again, we sat there with an open mind and an open heart, with a bigger imagination.  

The over-all excitement, great songs, and fantastic choreography  made up for the lack of the flying car action. We came out of the theater light-hearted, humming the contagious Chitty Chitty Bang Bang song. Bravo!

Special thanks to Monch "Monchster" Henares for the photos and videos.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang runs until November 12, 2017 at the Newport Performing Arts Theater in Resorts World Manila. Visit, or call (632) 908-8833.