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The car drives the musical

London's wildly popular 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang' is borne up by a flying auto and nostalgia-fueled audiences.

November 24, 2002|Robin Rauzi | Special to The Times

And while a New York version could cost up to $20 million to stage -- rivaling the $25-million budget of "The Lion King" -- Broadway tickets sell for more than those on the West End, where tickets top out at 40 pounds, about $65. The Broadway hit "The Producers," by contrast, has a top ticket price of $100.

They're in early talks with theaters, hoping to find a space that, like the 2,300-seat Palladium, is big enough for "Chitty" to spread its wings. In the right setting, Chitty could fly out even farther over the audience and do a few other yet-unused maneuvers.

"It's fantastic," Noble said. "I tell you, we could just sell rides."

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What we said then

"There's singing, dancing, some ingratiating people and all manner of visual delight, but this fantasy about the adventures of an eccentric inventor (Dick Van Dyke) and his magical automobile too often huffs and puffs when it should be chugging along.

"In short, it suffers from all the chronic ailments of blockbusters: It's too long, the production numbers are so lavish and numerous they begin to cancel each other out, and the songs, though pleasantly functional, are not really memorable.

"So much for the drawbacks. None of them is likely to faze the children for which this film is a natural or those adults who prefer Disney-type entertainment. Indeed, among the year-end deluge of films it is one of the very few suitable for kids and appropriate to the holiday season." -- Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times, Dec. 18, 1968, on the film "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang"

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