Roald Dahl’s iconic tale of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is back once more, this time in a magical musical stage adaptation.
This beloved story is of Willy Wonka, the man who is famous for making something out of nothing, who invites five lucky children for a once in a lifetime opportunity to enter his famous chocolate factory by winning a golden ticket hidden inside his chocolate bars. The five children are Augustus Gloop, Veruca Salt, Violet Beauregarde, Mike Teevee and remarkably, Charlie Bucket.
As the audience arrives, they are met with an intricate set that is later revealed to be a junkyard full of treasures, arches either side of the stage in the wings create a whimsical feel. The show opens with a female Charlie Bucket (Amelia Minto) in a sweet solo ‘Almost Nearly Perfect’, showing off Minto’s endearing yet strong vocal ability. Her portrayal of Charlie is both innocent and headstrong, demonstrating Charlie’s high moral compass and honest upbringing.
One of the main set pieces in the first act is the Bucket House, which is a wonderful two-story design featuring the memorable one double bed that Charlie’s four grandparents, Grandpa Joe, Grandma Josephine, Grandpa George and Grandma Georgina share. The combination of this set and the cast performances really bring the grandparents’ characters to life in a way that has not been seen before.
One of this show’s great feats is bringing the magic of Mr Wonka’s chocolate factory to life, which it achieves almost singlehandedly in the set and complex graphics. The stage backdrop and floor are lit with colourful and realistic projections, which, paired with the actors’ movement and reactions, make impossible things like the glass elevator and the chocolate river seem real and believable.
The storytelling in this production is impressive. Clear and smooth transitions between each scene create charm and wonder, bringing the performance to life. Each child is first introduced to the audience with the help of two news anchors, Jerry and Cherry. Their comedic timing, slapstick facial expressions and chemistry receiving huge laughs. The children then proceed to introduce themselves in extroverted musical numbers, each leaning into the stereotypes of their character and the countries they are from. Augustus Gloop (Robin Simões Da Silva) and Veruca Salt (Kazmin Borrer) were especially hilarious in their portrayals of the well-known characters, both pushing comedic boundaries which paid off well.
The heart of this show are the actors’ performances. Individually, the cast are strong and stay authentically in character throughout the show, even when the audience’s focus is diverted. Together, they gel well, and the choreographed moments are in perfect unison. Paired with their fabulous costumes, the ensemble are a vital contribution, particularly when they are portraying everyone’s favourite Oompa Loompas. Willy Wonka (Gareth Snook) has a marvellously chaotic entrance at the end of the first Act, Snook playing Mr Wonka as slightly eccentric and unhinged, yet enchanting. He does well to expose a different side to the treasured character, whilst nodding to both Gene Wilder’s and Johnny Depp’s portrayals on screen.
This production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a firm family favourite and one that will be enjoyed for years to come. With a diverse and talented cast, Roald Dahl’s miraculous tale continues to be introduced to a new generation of dreamers, inspiring children around the world.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is currently touring in the UK and Ireland until 4th February 2024, tickets and more information can be found at: https://charlieandthechocolatefactory.co.uk/ticket-information/
Reviewer: Maani Way
Reviewed: 22nd June 2023
North West End UK Rating: