That's all there in this musical, whose labyrinthine plot is nearly impossible to decipher (whole sections of the movie are left out, apparently) or to summarize. And given the Music Hall's voice-garbling sound system, the cast might all have been speaking German, er, Vulgarian, for all I know. Not a word of dialogue from anyone but Steve Wilson, the actor playing the inventor-father, Caractacus Potts, could be clearly understood.

Other than all that, the flying car is cute. And it's about the only enjoyable aspect of a bloated, coarse musical that lacks the witty writing and dynamite singing of a Wicked or the happy-peppy characters and big showstoppers of a Beauty and the Beast or Hairspray.

The Chitty Chitty score by Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman is both shrill and dull. Scenes and musical numbers seem grafted together for no reason, as when Caractacus, trying to flee the spies (a vaudeville-style duo played stupidly broad by Dirk Lumbard and Scott Cote) suddenly appears in a circus tent singing and high-kicking to "The Old Bamboo." The second act brings on the Eva Braun character (Elizabeth Ward Land) to sing and dance a samba. In the dialogue by Jeremy Sams (touring script adapted by Ray Roderick), there are scads of off-color jokes about bathroom activities and sexual kinks, the sort of misguided wink-wink gags aimed at parents who themselves are proud vulgarians.

Willy Welch anchors the eight-member ensemble in Theatre Too’s Woody Guthrie tribute, which shows just how relevant the singer remains today.
Ken Birdsell
Willy Welch anchors the eight-member ensemble in Theatre Too’s Woody Guthrie tribute, which shows just how relevant the singer remains today.

Details

Woody Guthrie’s American Song continues through July 26 at Theatre Too (below Theatre Three). Call 214-871-3300.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang continues through July 5 at the Music Hall at Fair Park. Call 214-631-ARTS.

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The car "flies" at the end of each long act, an effect that doesn't induce the "ooh-ah" factor that it might if the show around it were better. As Chitty's wasp-like wings unfolded over its tires and rose slowly above the stage floor, I only wished the thing would fly out into the audience and give me a ride home.

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