Strong Elementary drama club to perform ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Jr.’

the Strong Elementary School drama club, above, is getting ready to open the curtains on “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Jr.” on Feb. 1-2. (Submitted)

What happens when a car flies? Thirty-three students from Strong Elementary School will share the magical story of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Jr. on Friday, Feb. 1, and Saturday, Feb. 2.

Tickets are $5 and benefit the school’s PTO, which has produced the school play for the past four years in partnership with student directors from Southington High School. Performances are at John F. Kennedy Middle School and begin at 7 p.m.

It takes four students to play the title character, Chitty for short. Emma D., a fifth grader, plays the front of the car. Kendra B., a fourth grader, plays the back of the car. Brooke S., third, and Susanna C., fifth, play the right and left sides, respectively.

“This is a magical show,” said co-director Silvio D’Agostino in a press release. “It shows kids they can stand up for themselves. Certain types of people aren’t allowed to be themselves. They learn how to fight back.”

JJ P., a fifth grader, plays the lead role of Mr. Potts, an inventor and the father of two other leading characters, Jeremy and Jemima. Between Strong School and other community theaters, this is JJ’s sixth production. He said theater is an opportunity to meet new people, make new friends, sing and dance.

Nataly C., a fifth grader who plays the baroness, said not to worry about whether the show was appropriate for kids “because kids are doing it.”

“It’s just got really catchy songs,” said Madelyn S., a fifth grader who plays Jemima. She said she and her twin sister are always singing the songs together.

Like many of the student actors, Shannon S., a fifth grader who plays Truly Scrumptious, watched the movie after the play was announced. She said the play will appeal to people who, like her grandpa, remember watching the movie when they were younger. She said she hopes people leave the show feeling content and entertained.

“It’s a very funny show. There are a lot of comical beats to it,” said D’Agostino, who also recommended it for its nostalgia.

Eva Bilodeau, a freshman at SHS and the other co-director, said the show has a great ensemble that involves a lot of kids. She said she’s been in the ensemble and that it’s a great bonding experience.

This is the Strong School PTO’s 4th year with a drama club. Previous shows include The Little Mermaid Jr., Seussical Jr. and Honk Jr.

Angelique Bilodeau and Leanne Kennedy, the two PTO production coordinators, said they purchased the rights to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Jr. on the first day they were available. Bilodeau said she wanted to bring CCBB to Strong School after seeing a scene from the high school version at the Halo Awards, basically the Connecticut high school version of the Tony Awards. The show wasn’t yet available in a junior version.

Kennedy said they couldn’t put the show on without parent volunteers, the hospitality of JFK, and CT Sign Factory.

Kennedy said it is always a great feeling to see the kids exit the first scene with a smile. “That’s what makes it so fulfilling.”

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