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'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang' opens in Sarasota

From left, Ryan Modjeski, AJ Forsyth, Belle Babcock and Kaitlynn Barrett star in "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" at the Players Theatre in Sarasota. CLIFF ROLES/PUBLICITY PHOTO
From left, Ryan Modjeski, AJ Forsyth, Belle Babcock and Kaitlynn Barrett star in "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" at the Players Theatre in Sarasota. CLIFF ROLES/PUBLICITY PHOTO

A children's story about a flying jalopy isn't what you'd expect from Ian Fleming, the creator of the James Bond novels.

But Fleming's "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" became a family classic, and its reputation was cemented by the 1968 film that starred Dick Van Dyke and Gert "Goldfinger" Frobe, and featured a screenplay co-written by Roald Dahl and songs by the same team that wrote the music for "Mary Poppins."

A stage musical version premiered in London in 2002, and it was a huge hit. (It was only a moderate hit on Broadway a few years later.)

Now the musical is making its area premiere, with a production that opens Thursday at the Players Theatre in Sarasota.

The stage musical has several additional songs by the Sherman Brothers, who are among the most successful film score writers in history.

The Players production features A.J. Forsyth as the zany English inventor Caractacus Potts, Kaitlynn Barrett as Truly Scumptious, and Ryan Modjeski and Belle Babcock as Potts' children, Jeremy and Jemima. John Reynolds created the titular flying car.

Details: Oct. 29-Nov. 14, The Players Theatre, 838 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Show times: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 2p.m. Sunday. No performance Oct. 30. Tickets: $25-$30 adult, $12 student. Information: 941-365-2494, theplayers.org.

-- Marty Clear

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