The Coterie Theatre is once again trying something it has done with considerable success in recent years: adapt and condense a Broadway musical specifically for young audiences.
The Lab for New Family Musicals, as the endeavor is called, this time tackles “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” the whimsical tale of an eccentric inventor, two adventurous kids and a car rescued from the scrap heap that has the ability to fly, among other magical qualities.
The show has its origins in a novel for young readers by Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond. In 1968, MGM adapted the story as a movie musical with a script by Roald Dahl and songs by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman, the brothers who had written the music for many Disney films, including “Mary Poppins.”
The next stage in its evolution was an adaptation for the stage, which premiered in London in 2002 and opened on Broadway in 2005.
The Coterie production, directed by Jeff Church, includes most of the Sherman brothers’ songs and will feature a car designed by Alex Espy. It will, we are told, create the illusion of flight in a new, innovative way.
Heading the cast is Jerry Jay Cranford, a Broadway veteran who plays Baron Bomburst and Lord Scrumptious. Cranford, well known to local theatergoers for his broad musical-comedy performances, also choreographs the show.
Other performers include Jake Walker as Caractacus Potts, Stefanie Wienecke as Truly Scrumptious, Martin Buchanan as Grandpa Potts, Bob Linebarger as Mr. Coggins, Hughston Walkinshaw as the Childcatcher, Julie Shaw as Baroness Bomburst, Allison Banks as Jemima and Lucas Dorrell as Jeremy. Dakota Hoar, Marshall Hopkins, Malena Marcase, Reagan Danel Ogle and Callie Rodina fill out the ensemble.
Journeyman Theatre, one of the resident companies at Just Off Broadway, is in the midst of a run of “Of Mice and Men,” John Steinbeck’s classic fable about two drifters who hire on at a California ranch as migrant workers during the Depression. George and the childlike Lennie just want to be left alone, but fate has something else in store for them.
Steinbeck published his tragic novella in 1937, the same year his stage adaptation premiered on Broadway. The Journeyman production features Lucas T. McVey as George, Kevin Bickwermert as Lennie, Jon Engle as Slim the ranch foreman and Kenna Hall as Curley’s wife, the only female role. Gregory Chafin directs.
Performances continue through Sunday at Just Off Broadway, 3051 Central. For tickets and additional information, go to JourneymanTheatre.com.