"Well done, Karen Pauley, the crew and the marvelous cast. Such energy, such joy, great song and truly fantabulous dancing... "
— Ben Porter
I directed Tokyo International Players mainstage production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which took place in May 2019. This was my first time directing for the company and was a memorable experience. As well as being the director I was also the vocal director for the show and the costume designer.
Most of my involvement with TIP has been on shows with dark subject matter, that are aimed at an adult audience. They were wonderful, but I was intrigued by the concept of putting on a musical that a family could watch together, involved children in the cast, and featured melodic songs. Mention the name Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and two things spring to mind: a flying car, and an evil Childcatcher. For me, however, it is a story about childhood innocence and family love. I watched the movie, which was based on a book by Ian Fleming, as a child. Today, it is Fleming's book that resonates with me. He talks about the knowledge children have that their parents love them, and that their parents will always rescue them. Whilst I know that this is not always the case, I have hope that it can be.
Theatre allows us to tell stories, and I want to tell a story about a family that loves each other, and about fathers that love their children. This is a story about the places we can go, and the things we can achieve, if we only believe they are possible. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang may be a tall tale about a fantasmagorical machine, but at its heart it’s about family love.
Teamwork can make a dream work, if we all pitch in and try.
It would be in no way possible for me to direct a show like this without the support of my team.
I am indebted to my choreographer, Dale Geyer, whose creative skill combined with his joy and sensitivity made him such a pleasure to work with. His help was invaluable to this process and the choreography he created was everything I could have hoped for it to be.
I have endless admiration for my music director, Mika Ohta, whose professionalism and perfectionism is inspiring. It would be impossible to perform this show without her, and I am grateful that she is willing to work with me.
My stage manager, Michelle Schovaers Wagley, is an oasis of calm amid the madness that every production becomes, and I know she will do everything possible to make this show work on the stage. I am thankful that I got to work with her.
My assistant director, Rosie Tricks, made is possible for me to see many more things about the production than I ever would have seen on my own. Her warmth and generosity with the cast made rehearsals that much more pleasant; and her encouragement helped me to keep going at the times when things were difficult. I am thrilled that we got to work together on this production and I hope that we can do so again in the future.
My thanks go to Jack Merluzzi and Shinji Kobata for all their support. Their wealth of experience of theatre and their willingness to share this was invaluable to me. They have managed to create a space that I often call my second home and are the heart of my Tokyo theatre family.
Somehow I managed to convince my husband, Marty, to produce the show and I can’t thank him enough for the work he put into this production. His patience with my obsession and his ability to solve problems made this process that much smoother.
Specials thanks go to my friend and mentor, Jonah Hagans, the production designer for this show. My journey into directing only began because he invited me to be his assistant director on one of his productions. His encouragement and enthusiasm allowed me to take the leap that would make this production fly.
Finally, I am so grateful for this opportunity to work with each member of this wonderful cast and crew. Thank you so much for all the work you put into this adventure. Together, nothing is impossible.