Ready steady bang bang comes to Milton Keynes

Michelle Collins
Michelle Collins
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With the wow-some production of The Bodyguard lingering on in minds, MK Theatre prepares to ace us again this week coming, when Chitty Chitty Bang Bang parks up.

And it is promising to have viewers flying high with a heady mix of madness, intrigue and exuberance.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

It certainly did that in the West End where one of the world’s most favoured musicals smashed all box office records. Belt up and prepare for a ride and a half!

We’ve got a grand parade of faces taking you to far off places through the power of the stage work too – Michelle Collins, for one.

She tackles the role of Baroness Bomburst: “The Baroness is such an iconic role, and initially I wasn’t sure,” she admitted, “but it is a really great fun part and I see myself more of a character actress now, so it was a chance to reinvent myself a bit.”

And re-invent herself she does – she actually has two roles in the show.

“In the first half I play Mrs Phillips, secretary to Lord Scrumptious. She’s quite passive-aggressive and is secretly in love with him, I think.

“The Baroness, in the second half, is quite clever. To me the Baroness and the Baron are George and Mildred, but she’s always got the upper hand. “He’s just a child who abuses his power and wants to be mothered.”

And though she won’t reveal who, Michelle says that her Baroness has been based on someone in the public eye.

For Michelle, the music in Chitty is what gives it added oomph, and though she’s not new to the world of musicals, she didn’t spend years sweating in dance studios, either.

“I am definitely not a West End Wendy type,” she laughed.

“I did a few tap classes as a kid but I gave it up because I didn’t like it that the lessons took place above a funeral directors in the Holloway Road.”

But she’s a professional, and on her game. And she’s got those stage moves licked.

“I have had to work really hard and I’ve found joints in my body that I never knew I had,” she reveals, “but I’m 53 years old and I’m prancing around on stage in my fishnets and heels, so life could be a lot worse.”

And she’s had to apply herself to some particularly tough challenges with Mr Grylls, the survival expert, recently.

“It was seriously hard-core,” she says of the time she spent in the South African bush.

“It was beautiful, but weather-wise it was extreme and we lived off soldier rations. For me to even be in it was a challenge, but I definitely found out that I am more courageous than I thought I was.”

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang reunites Michelle with another former Albert Square dweller, Shaun Williamson, who also plays two roles in this production - Baron Bomburst and Lord Scrumptious.

It’s been years since either has appeared in the EastEnders credits, and yet conniving Cindy Beale and trier Barry Evans are two of the most memorable characters in its three-decade history, thanks to those the two breathing life into the roles.

Any down time she does get in between shows is easily filled – she currently has a children’s book and a short film taking attention.

But on Wednesday the flying car and its occupants will land (or park...which works best?) in town for an 11-day stay that, to coin a phrase, will be simply fantasmagorical.

“It is a show that has heart, honesty and truth,” Michelle says. “I’m so excited by how popular it is – we have packed houses at every performance!”

Book your seat on 0844 871 7652.

CCBB focuses on the loveable but wacky inventor Potts who has to outwit the bombastic Baron Bomburst who has decreed that all children be banished from his kingdom.

Helping Potts will be his two children and the gorgeous Truly Scrumptious...but what happens when the children are caught and imprisoned by the evil Childcatcher?

We can’t say, but we can tell you that there is a happy ever after with this piece, which also stars Lee Mead as Caractacus Potts and Carrie Fletcher Hope in the role of Truly Scrumptious.