Truly Scrumptious! Leeds Chitty kids’ first taste of stardom

Members of the young cast of the West Yorkshire Playhouse's Christmas show, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang visiting sweet shop Bon Bons, Thornton Arcade, Leeds.

Members of the young cast of the West Yorkshire Playhouse's Christmas show, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang visiting sweet shop Bon Bons, Thornton Arcade, Leeds.

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NINE youngsters took a first bow today after winning parts in Leeds’ biggest theatre show.

They were among the would-be actors, singers and dancers picked from an open casting call at the West Yorkshire Playhouse - and will now join the ensemble cast in a new production of the classic Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Nearly 300 kids between seven and 13 were auditioned by director James Brining, and around 40 will eventually be cast.

The show - a huge hit at the London Palladium when it was first staged in 2002 - is a childlike fantasy by James Bond author Ian Fleming, in which eccentric sweet inventor Caractacus Potts and girlfriend Truly Scrumptious discover their ramshackle racing car has developed the ability to fly.

Today, the first nine cast members got into character by being let loose in a sweet shop - Bons Bons in Thornton’s Arcade.

Shelagh Bourke from the Playhouse said: “It’s the biggest show we’ve done here. We put a call out to local kids at the end of June and we put some of them through six rounds of auditions.”

Cast members Saskia Martin and Jamie Cooke.

Cast members Saskia Martin and Jamie Cooke.

The adult cast for the show has yet to be announced. Jason Donovan and Michael Ball were among the stars in the London production, reprising the role made famous by Dick Van Dyke in the 1968 movie.

The London stage show used hydraulics to create the illusion of a flying car - and the new Leeds production also promises “sensational sets and stunning special effects”. But theatre staff were keeping tight lipped about how they would make the car take off.

The show opens in Leeds on December 2 for a nine-week season ending on January 30, and then goes on a national tour with different casts of youngsters.

Mr Brining said: “Directing such an iconic show is a great opportunity, a thrilling challenge for any director. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a brilliant adventure story, filled with classic songs and scenes that hold so many memories for so many people. I can’t wait to bring it not only to Leeds but also to audiences across the UK.”

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