Five minutes with Michael Rose

Date Posted: 14/01/2010

Rebekah Tailor caught up with Michael Rose, producer of musical spectacular Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, to find out what touring this large-scale show involves.

Group Leisure: As the producer, what does your role entail whilst on tour?
Michael: It’s basically looking out for the wellbeing of the company as they visit each city and ensuring they all get paid on time. I’m also in charge of marketing the show, all the health and safety issues that come with the production, and basically administering the whole side of what goes with having a company of 100-odd people on the road. It keeps me fairly busy (laughs).

Group Leisure: Could you describe some of the difficulties of touring this production?
Michael: It’s the size and the time element. Making sure that everything arrives on time and that technically we’re ready for the first night at each venue - which so far, touch wood, has not been a problem. We have a very skilled set of people who come with us to make sure the show fits all the various venues, and who then take the set apart again ready to go to the next city. So that’s really the greatest challenge - fighting time constantly.

Group Leisure: Why do you think the show has been such a success?
Michael: I think because it’s got such a wide appeal. It deals with two very important elements: the issue of being able to fly, which is something we all dream about as kids and indeed as adults, and also the protection of our children.

Group Leisure: Any favourite songs or scenes from the show?
Michael: Well, there can only be one favourite scene, which is of course the end of act one where the car goes over the cliff for the very first time and we discover it can fly. That’s where I hold my breath every night thinking, please let it work! It really takes the audience’s breath away so that would definitely be my favourite bit every time.

Group Leisure: What was the idea behind using local school children within the show?
Michael: The logistics of taking so many children on the road with us, and taking them out of school for such a length of time, is a licensing nightmare! However it also gives an added interest for the local community. It’s a great introduction for kids wanting to get involved in theatre or drama – a terrific experience because they’re working with such professional people.

Group Leisure: Any disasters or near-misses on tour?
Michael: Not so far - touch wood! I know where all the danger points are and I always hold my breath at certain elements during the production. But we’ve got a terrific team of people and even though there’s so much that can go wrong with live theatre, on the rare occasion that it does the public are so supportive because they feel like there’s something special happening and are terribly forgiving. So far we’ve got a fairly clean slate - long may it continue!

Group Leisure: What’s your next challenge after the current UK tour of Chitty finishes?
Michael: I’ve got a new production which I’ve just done in Manchester at The Lowry, which I hope to go into London - Irving Berlin’s White Christmas - a musical based on a movie from 1954. I’m just waiting to hear on the availability with West End theatre for a three month period, which will be late October/November time to the beginning of January. I’ve got a new musical about The Monkees coming into London next spring, and I’m also waiting to hear whether a play I co-produced on Broadway with Daniel Craig will come into London this summer.

Group Leisure: Finally, could you sum up the show in no more than five words.
Michael: Pure magic.

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