CenterStage Geelong are getting scrumptious with their 2017 production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. We spoke to Rachel Allen, who plays Truly Scrumptious, about stepping into her first leading role and doing her first amateur theatre production.

“I’m admittedly very excited that this is both my first amateur theatre production and my first lead role. I was both incredibly surprised and honoured to be given a lead role in my first show. Boccas, Bam and Dan have given me an incredible opportunity and they have been such a dream team to work with” said Allen, about the team at Centre Stage

It’s not her first time on stage however, having done musical theatre productions in her high school years.

“I’m absolutely loving this experience! I’ve made some wonderful new friends, learnt more about this process than I could have ever conceived, and finally found a place where my heart and passions can reside.
The musical, based on the 1968 British film, has music and lyrics by Richard and Robert Sherman, with book by Jeremy Sams.

The show follows eccentric inventor Caractacus Potts and his children Jeremy and Jemima who save and restore an old acing car for the scrap heap. They discover the car has the magical ability to float and even take flight. Allen plays Truly Scrumptious, who the children meet while skipping school, and becomes part of their adventures with the car.

“Truly is a character that is feisty and forthright when dealing with adults and yet she immediately, and intuitively, softens her disposition when interacting with the children. The children bring out a tender, warm and vulnerable nature that she often hides when dealing with adults,” said Allen.

“As someone who works with children, I can absolutely relate to that transition. My own demeanour has very similar and notable changes when interacting with children versus adults. Children bring out the most wonderful part of my own personality”.

For Allen, the rehearsal process has been an enjoyable learning experience.

“I have been fortunate enough to not only be surrounded by an incredibly talented and knowledgeable production team, but also to be surrounded by cast members with equally impressive knowledge, talent and experience.

This may be Allen’s first performance in amateur theatre, but this is her co-star Mark Monroe’s 50th production.

“He is a never ending source of knowledge and inspiration,’ she said.

“The children playing Jeremy and Jemima are utterly gorgeous. They never cease to amaze me. They show up with boundless joy and energy, they knew their lines and songs before all of us – despite having the most lines and songs in the show – and they are constant in their commitment”.
She has faced many challenges during this production, including a lack of experience with the stagecraft, process and theatre lingo.

“I didn’t even know what P (prompt) and OP (off prompt) meant. I’m constantly having to ask people what all these things mean. Every little thing throughout this process has been a first for me, from basic blocking to sitzt probe!”

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang opens on 10 March and plays until 18 March at the Geelong Performing Arts Centre. Tickets at: www.gpac.org.au

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