Theater review: 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang' is a fun ride for the family at Fair Park Music Hall

Written by DSM Columnists on Wednesday, June 24, 2009 at 8:49 AM

12:36 AM CDT on Wednesday, June 24, 2009
By LAWSON TAITTE / The Dallas Morning News
mailto:Newsltaitte@dallasnews.com

Cute kids. A quartet of hilarious villains. A whole pack of trained dogs. A production number with a samba that sizzles. What more could a family musical possibly need?

How about a magical car that floats, flies and makes people ask it nicely if they want a ride?

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang chugged, sailed and soared into Fair Park Music Hall for the Dallas Summer Musicals on Tuesday. This road version more than lives up to the standard the Broadway version set in 2005. Largely overlooked in a bumper year for musicals, it struck me as the best Broadway family show since The Lion King. This tour, adapted and directed by Ray Roderick, sacrifices a bit of grandeur but gains in comic spontaneity.
Ian Fleming, an unlikely children's writer, shows his hand as the original storyteller in various ways: There are spies, though they're played for laughs. And recall that James Bond's cars always had tricks up their sleeves, just like the title vehicle here.

Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman's songs are almost as infectious as the ones they created for Mary Poppins. And, frankly, the plot in this show is more appealing. The father, hapless inventor Caractacus Potts (Steve Wilson), has boundless affection for his children (Jeremy Lipton and Camille Mancuso at Tuesday's performance). They all look after the grandfather (Dick Decareau), and the kids know before the dad does that there's chemistry brewing with a motorcycle-driving heiress (Kelly McCormick).

None of the performers are household names, but they're all solid pros and often more aptly cast than their Broadway counterparts. Dirk Lumbard is delightfully oily as the taller of the bumbling spies, and Scott Cote is his even dumber sidekick. As the evil baron and baroness, George Dvorsky and Elizabeth Ward Land are silly and sinister at the same time. Oliver Wadsworth may be entirely too sinister for younger children as the hideously creepy Childcatcher, although the happy ending defuses most of the terror.

You don't have to be a kid to have a truly scrumptious time at Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. But feel free to bring a couple of tykes along if you think you'll feel conspicuous without them.

PLAN YOUR LIFE Through July 5 at Fair Park Music Hall. Runs 150 mins. $12 to $71. Ticketmaster at 214-631-2787, http://www.ticketmaster.com/.

Original Dallas Morning News Post

5th Anniversary STAGE RIGHT Press Conference

Written by DSM Columnists on Friday, June 5, 2009 at 11:17 AM

Dallas TX
11:15am Breaking News
Steven Hall, Webmaster, DSM

We just completed the press conference for the 5th Anniversary of our "Stage Right" youth outreach program. Mayor Leppert and Chief of Police Kunkle spoke along with co-founders of the program DSM President Michael Jenkins & Dallas Police Detective "Monty" Moncibais. Details on the "Stage Right" below. Also in attendance were many more VIPs such as City Manager Mary Suhm, Mayor Pro Tem Dr. Elba Garcia, KLUV's Jody Dean and CBS's Ginger Allen. Very cool that in their busy schedules everyone could come together for this outreach initiative!

ABOUT STAGE RIGHT
Stage Right Raises the Curtain for Education and Spotlights Appreciation of the Arts through Experience and Positive Quality Lifestyles.

Dallas Police Department Assistant Chief Ron Waldrop and Michael A. Jenkins, President and Managing Director of Dallas Summer Musicals (DSM), held a press conference on June 4, 2008 in the lobby of the Music Hall at Fair Park to discuss the objectives and success of the Stage Right program that introduces at-risk youth ages 12-15 to arts and culture events as well as introducing them to “Positive Action” self improvement and self esteeming building summer curriculum.

Both Mr. Jenkins, the grass-roots visionary who helped create the Stage Right initiative to reach out to at-risk students and DPD Narcotics Detective Monty Moncibais, who heads up the program for DPD, will speak. Stage Right Steering Committee members also attended included Chris Hawkins, Federal Bureau of Investigation; Victor Burke President, North Texas Crime Commission; Gail Gray, Phoenix House; Lori Sirmen, Dallas Summer Musicals; Carolyn Jordan, Boys and Girls Club; Herbert Moncibais, Hispanic Business Alliance; Gloria Moncibais, Hispanic Business Alliance; and Susan Moncibais, community activist.

Also present at the conference were Gary Hodges, DISD, Assistant Chief; Mike Hathcoat, Director, the Phoenix House; Anita N. Martinez, Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico Company; Charles English, Dallas Boys & Girls Club; Reginald Hurd, Dallas Parks and Recreation; Paul Monroe, the Dallas Mavericks; Steve Colmus, KIPP Truth Academy; Billy Walker, Coca Cola Bottling of North Texas; and Eddie Campbell and Ed Campbell, Campbell Concessions.

Stage Right’s mission statement is “Raising the curtain for education and spotlighting the appreciation of the arts through experience and positive quality lifestyles.”

The students are recommended by DISD teachers and counselors and other youth programs including Boys & Girls Clubs, Girls Inc., and Dallas Recreation Centers as part of their ongoing efforts to keep students from joining gangs or engaging in other activities that prevent their enjoying success in school. Stage Right seeks to raise awareness of the arts, increase appreciation for different lifestyles and also increase self esteem.
This year, over 800 students are participating in the program!

For more information about Stage Right, please contact DPD Detective Moncibais at 214-537-8954.