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Springfield Little Theatre presents 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang'

The stage version of family favorite "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" takes off for three weekends in Springfield Little Theatre's new production.
Poster courtesy Springfield Little Theatre
The stage version of family favorite "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" takes off for three weekends in Springfield Little Theatre's new production.

“We've got such a strong cast. Dean Price, one of our veteran actors, is back as the Baron and I can't wait to see him on stage."

Lisa Hamaker, Development Director at Springfield Little Theatre, joined us on “Arts News” to discuss SLT’s new production of the stage version of “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” a musical based on Ian Fleming’s novel and the motion picture, opening tonight (Friday, January 23) at the Landers Theatre, 311 E. Walnut in Springfield.

We began by noting that there’s always a bit of a disconnect when one sees the names “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” a classic children’s book, and Ian Fleming, famous for his Cold War-era James Bond spy novels, used together. (Fleming apparently wrote the book for his son, and was inspired by a series of British race cars utilizing aircraft engines.)

Hamaker immediately established how much fun the story is. “It’s a fun book. Then there’s the movie — it is so much fun. Did you watch it? We did, as kids. The Child Catcher scene was always one of those… (Lisa made some scary sounds here to illustrate the effect it had on her as a child). Oh, but I love it!

“The music is fabulous,” Hamaker continued. (The music and lyrics are by Richard and Robert Sherman, with a book by Jeremy Sams.)

“We've got such a strong cast. Dean Price, one of our veteran actors, is back as the Baron and I can't wait to see him on stage. We also have Truly Scrumptious, Rebecca Claborn, on stage. And then, of course, Mr. Potts is Tom Baker. And I really I'm excited for a lot of the kiddos that are in this show. We have to have lots of children for the Child Catcher [played in this production by Allegra Schaeffer] to menace. You know, honestly, this is a great show to bring kids to, even if it's like a first time for a kid, probably (ages) three, four and up. There's just so much happening in the show and the flying car, and what Jamie Bower and Chuck Rogers are able to do to create so much magic. It's just amazing. I highly recommend it.”

Unusually for Little Theatre, there will be no Saturday-evening show on February 4, just a 2 p.m. matinee.

“I'm not exactly sure why that is,” Hamaker admitted. “There may have been a conflict with some of the leads pre-existing, but then you'll have a whole other week to come see the show. And then the last Saturday, February 11, we will have both a matinee and an evening performance.”

“Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” opens tonight (Friday, January 27) at 7:30 p.m. There is a performance Saturday afternoon the 28th at 2 p.m., but it’s all sold out to the production’s sponsor, Positronic.

As Hamaker explained, “they actually bring all of their people and all of their employees’ families, and they come for a special performance, which will be tomorrow (afternoon).” The Saturday-evening show tomorrow night at 7:30 is a public performance. The following week, performances are Thursday and Friday, February 2nd and 3rd at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday the 4th at 2 p.m only (remember, no evening performance on the 4th); and Sunday the 5th at 2 p.m. The final weekend, February 9-12, the show runs Thursday through Saturday evenings at 7:30 p.m., with matinees both Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. So there are plenty of opportunities to see the production.

Hamaker added a note of caution to persons ordering tickets online: be sure you go to to order tickets at LT’s regular $25 to $37 prices. SLT has discovered that if a prospective customer simply enters “Springfield Little Theatre" in their search engine of choice, “our show will pop up, but that will be a Ticketmaster or one of the other ticketing companies. They buy tickets from us online, and then they resell them at a higher cost.”

And SLT can’t refund the difference.

“So please, everybody be aware: Use the Springfield Little Theatre website only to order those tickets; or you can call the box office at (417) 869-1334. Leave a message if we're not there, and we'll definitely call you back. Box office is open 12 to 5 Monday through Friday.”

SLT always offers a performance of one family-friendly show per year, like “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” to the Springfield Public School system, which buses 4th-graders to a special daytime performance.

Says Hamaker, “Oftentimes it's their first time to ever see live theater. So I'm really happy that we're still doing that. We've been doing that for three decades and beyond. A lot of people I talk to, when I ask, ‘Have you ever been to the Landers?’ They remember that fourth grade show. So thank you to everybody who supports Springfield Little Theatre at the Landers and helps us make that possible. And man, a shout out to all of our volunteers, the actors who spend all that time rehearsing, and then those performances where they give everything just so our audiences can enjoy. My gosh, that could be your doctor, your lawyer, your next-door neighbor up there on stage. So it's a celebration every time we put on a show, and such an honor to be there.”

Randy Stewart joined the full-time KSMU staff in June 1978 after working part-time as a student announcer/producer for two years. His job has evolved from Music Director in the early days to encompassing production of a wide range of arts-related programming and features for KSMU, including the online and Friday morning Arts News. Stewart assists volunteer producers John Darkhorse (Route 66 Blues Express), Lee Worman (The Gold Ring), and Emily Higgins (The Mulberry Tree) with the production of their programs. He's also become the de facto "Voice of KSMU" in recent years due to the many hours per day he’s heard doing local station breaks. Stewart’s record of service on behalf of the Springfield arts community earned him the Springfield Regional Arts Council's Ozzie Award in 2006.