Theatre students bring high-flying musical to Cedar Park

Amanda Weston

Audiences attending this year’s annual CPHS musical can expect to be dazzled not only by talented students, but by the famous “magical, fantasmagorical” flying car that is Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. This fall, CPHS will make theatre history by becoming the first amateur theatre in Texas to perform the Broadway musical based on the beloved childhood film.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang tells the story of the magical floating, flying car and the adventures it brings. Caractacus Potts, played by sophomore Zach Hawks, is an inventor who rescues the magical car from the junkyard at the request of his children Jeremy and Jemima, played by freshmen Paul Madsen and Molly Mccaskill respectively. The family meets candy empire-heiress Truly Scrumptious, played by senior Madison Piner, before being whisked away to the fictional Vulgaria to rescue Potts’ father, freshman Donelvan Thigpen, kidnapped by the Baron Bomburst, freshman Dave Hawks. The childish baron demands the magical car for his upcoming birthday and believes that Potts’ father is the car’s creator. Once the group arrives, the children are kidnapped by the child catcher, senior Victoria Steele, who has been appointed by the Baroness, senior Milan Matuté, to rid Vulgaria of all children. Potts and Truly must then save the family, the fugitive Vulgarian children and their beloved car.

Students auditioned for the show the first week of school and began production with the tech crew in late August. Rehearsals take place three to four times a week for up to four hours and include learning dance choreography, rehearsing music, introducing technical elements and blocking with the actors.

“I auditioned because it’s my thirteenth year [performing in the musical]. It’s what I do every year,” Chelsea Hollenbeck, senior, said. “[My favorite part is] dance rehearsals. They’re very engaging and active. I’m looking forward to all the set design and special effects.”

Hollenbeck plays the Vulgarian toymaker who hides Vulgarian children from the evil child catcher and helps Potts rescue his family.

Many students face the challenge of balancing rehearsals with school and other activities, but believe that it’s worth it to be a part of the show.

“It’s hard,” Britney Wilkinson, sophomore, said. “I stay up late and get up early in order to get all my work done and there isn’t much time for anything but school and rehearsal during the week.”

Wilkinson plays Goran, one of the Vulgarian spies hired to find and capture Chitty.

The cast and crew are comprised completely of students led by theatre director Jerry Blake and tech director Denton Davies. Both are thrilled about this year’s participants.

“I love the cast,” Blake said. “Everybody gave a hundred percent in auditions. They tried hard and are very enthusiastic and fun already. They all have different talents and help each other out. They seem like a really nice group.”

This year’s tech crew faces the enormous challenge of constructing a car that gives the audience the illusion of flying on stage. Blake and Davies have considered many ideas including hiring an illusionist, puppetry and other stage techniques. Unlike previous shows where the crew was able to gain ideas and base their techniques off that of other theatres’ productions, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’s Broadway version is the only leading example. On Broadway the car was able to fly over the audience using elaborate machinery, but cost around $750,000.

Although students involved in the production face many challenges, they enjoy more than just the performance itself.

“[My favorite part is] the curtain call,” Wilkinson said. “People applauding for something you’ve worked so hard on is an amazing feeling. During curtain call I feel truly appreciated, like the audience is glad that we took the time to put on a good show for them.”

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang will be performed in the Performing Arts Center November 18 to 21. All shows will be performed at 7:30 pm except for Sunday’s performance at 2 pm. Tickets can be purchased from Blake or on the theatre department’s website, The directors, cast and crew encourage students to come see the high-flying musical.