A FAMOUS flying car is revving up to grace the stage in Perth this week but, according to the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang stars, it’s not necessarily the high tech prop that will leave a lasting impression on young audience members.
George Kapiniaris, who plays the role of Goran the spy in the Australian production, which is directed by Roger Hodgman and produced by WAAPA graduate Tim Lawson, said he believes the character of The Child Catcher remains “embedded in everyone’s psyche”.
Kapinaris said his four-year-old son, Peter, went to see the stage adaption of the timeless story and was enchanted by The Child Catcher, played by Tyler Coppin.
“(Peter) came to the show, loved the show and was very scared and obsessed by The Child Catcher,” he said.
“He met Tyler backstage and I said ‘Look he’s a dad like me, he’s got kids, he’s a really nice guy’ (and he said) ‘Yeah dad, he’s a really nice guy’ and introduced himself ‘Hi I’m Peter Kapiniaris’ and then had a nightmare about him that night.”
Rachael Beck, who plays Truly Scrumptious, said the youngest of her two daughters also had something of a love-hate obsession with The Child Catcher.
“I was explaining to them that actors do their roles and then they’re human beings and they have kids and all of that,” Beck said.
“And my four-year-old saw the show and met Tyler afterwards and she said ‘Mummy, I don’t like Tyler as The Child Catcher but I like him as a human being’ so she made that distinction.”
Kapiniaris added that, growing up, he had loved the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang film.
“When I was a boy I only used to see a movie once and that was it – I’d had enough,” he said.
“Whereas my kids see movies 20 times over. But Chitty, I think, was one of those movies I saw more than once. I liked it so much that I actually saw it two or three times in the cinema.”
The show, which has become known for its stunning sets and special effects, features music and lyrics by the legendary Sherman brothers, composers of Mary Poppins, and scenic and costume design by Anthony Ward.
At a cost of nearly $1.2 million, the magical car, Gen 11, holds the Guinness World Record for being the most expensive prop in the history of British Theatre.
*Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, September 4-October 6, Crown Theatre Perth. Tickets from Ticketek.