Really? You thought we’d just come right out and show you Chitty from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang before Opening Night? Not a chance. The car is hidden away. But we have the next best thing for you; a chat with Robb Howells, the designer of VOS THEATRE’s fantasmagorical car!
VOS: We call you “our own Caractacus Potts”. You have an amazingly creative mind. It seems you can make everything out of anything and it all ends up being a glorious treat to the eyes. What’s your background?
Robb: My background is as a furniture maker, but I’ve been making props for about 15 years now. I’ve developed and built props for Jesus Christ Superstar, Sweeney Todd, The Woman in Black, Mary Poppins, Singin’ in the Rain, Shrek, Shout, The Elephant Man, The Putnam County Spelling Bee, and several others.
VOS: What has presented the biggest challenge?
Robb: They’ve all presented their own challenges, but none more so than Chitty. I’ve never worked on such a complex, and large piece before!
We’re keeping Chitty top secret and plan to move her into Victoria Hall covered so that no one catches a glimpse until we open.
VOS: You’re the creator of VOS THEATRE’s Chitty. Without revealing too much what has your process been like?
Robb: The process has been totally engrossing, to the point where thoughts of it wakes me up in the morning. My workshop is currently a bit of a train wreck, and there are calipers, trammels, compasses and rulers everywhere. I’m taking most of the scaling and detail from the Corgi toy that came out with the movie in about 1968.
VOS: Coolest thing about the car?
Robb: The coolest thing about the car is its complexity and our efforts at making all the contraptions work. It is pretty stylish too.
VOS: Tell us about some of your other creations? Which projects have really fueled you?
Robb: Although I’ve had fun challenging myself on all my projects, my favourite was probably Sweeney Todd, which was done as a steampunk version. I love contemplating an alternate version of the world where everything is cog and steam driven with lots of brass, copper and mahogany. The entire show was up for grabs, design-wise, so we let our minds go with our only restriction being what things we could source. So much fun!
You don’t have to be a kid to appreciate Robb’s craftsmanship. Your first chance to see his creative genius live and onstage is Opening Night, November 19, 2015. Order your tickets by calling 905-372-2210 or online at vostheatre.com.
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