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Chitty Chitty Bang Bang takes flight in London

LONDON, April 16 (Reuters) - Chitty Chitty Bang Bang took flight over London theatreland on Tuesday with the world stage premiere of the musical spectacular about a magical flying car.

The show, based on the 1968 movie classic starring Dick Van Dyke, had the first night audience gasping in amazement as the car rose above the auditorium. Among those to give the show a rousing reception was Pierce Brosnan who took a break from filming the latest James Bond movie to watch the feelgood spectacle.

But the shining car was the undoubted star of the night as it took high tech flight. As the audience rose to its feet at the end, Michael Ball, who recreates Van Dyke's role as crackpot inventor Caractacus Potts, said: ``Thank- you for that incredible ovation. This was the best children's film of all time.''

To rousing cheers, he introduced Sally Ann Howes who played Truly Scrumptious in the original movie along with Heather Ripley and Adrian Hall, the film's child stars, also on stage to relive the magic.

Billed as one of London's most expensive musicals with a six million pounds ($8.6 million) budget, the tale originally penned by James Bond creator Ian Fleming has already taken eight million pounds in advance bookings at the box office.

And the show boasts a classic pedigree -- Royal Shakespeare Company chief Adrian Noble is directing the show with choreography by Gillian Lynne, who had worldwide hits with ``Cats'' and ``Phantom of the Opera.' '

Lynne is convinced the show's feelgood factor will keep the tills ringing at the box office. ``After September 11, life isn't the same and we need something carefree and innocent to relax with. Our advance bookings have prove that, if nothing else,'' she told London's Evening Standard.''

And Richard O'Brien, creator of the ``Rocky Horror Show,'' has readily admitted he would have ``crawled over broken glass'' to play the part of the evil Childcatcher in ``Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.''

The brothers Richard and Robert Sherman, who wrote the original film score as well as the Oscar-garlanded ``Mary Poppins,'' have reworked some ``Chitty'' songs and penned new ones for the London production. Richard Sherman told Reuters: `

`Its a brand new show with a great cast. I hope the whole world will love it.''

Paul Majendie, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang takes flight in London. , Reuters, 04-16-2002

The Richard O'Brien Crusade est. 1996