Roald Dahl’s deliciously dark tale of the adventures of young Charlie Bucket, inside the chocolate factory of eccentric chocolatier Willy Wonka, is brought to life in its fourth and final year in London’s West End Theatre Royal Drury Lane.Loved by the world for almost 50 years the story of how Charlie Bucket is lucky enough to win a golden ticket with the chance to win the prize of a lifetime. In case you wondered that is a lifetime supply of sweets and not gin as Grandma Georgina assumed! Things are not quite what is expected beyond the gates into the Wonka factory and one by one the children discover that things are not as sweet as things first seem.
Thoughts on Charlie and The Chocolate Factory The Musical
The Venue West End Theatre Royal Drury Lane for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
West End Theatre Royal Drury Lane was easy to find and a short walk from Covent Garden Tube station (which had a street map nearby showing which way to go). Collecting tickets was well organised and easy to locate. The staff were very friendly and helpful, there were plenty of refreshments, and despite the large numbers of people entering and leaving the rest rooms did not take too long (they were also clean and well stocked). The month of September had costumes displayed in the foyer (and the designs), plus some social fun ops.
We had a good clear view of the stage from our seats in the stalls and the cast even went right past us. We loved the fact that there were booster seats for the children too. I was on an end seat but my husband said that there was very little leg room in the stalls. Having cash is really useful as this allows you to purchase things more easily, including from your seats. I would have liked is to be able to use my debit card to have purchased things as the only places to use it were too crowded for my liking and this ultimately meant that we went away without a programme. The boys loved the sweets and drinks deal – and it was a reasonable price considering where we were.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory the Musical
Can I just start by saying there was nothing negative to say about the musical at all!
A mixture of fantastic lighting, singing, scenery, effects, the costumes, dancing, talented cast, humour, and modern day twists to a brilliant story.
The scenery was amazing and changed so quickly – we particular liked the beds which split and came together to form a big bed, the huge TV, the Wonka gates, the edible grass, the chocolate fountain – I could go on and on. The effects were also spectacular – some of our favourite things were Charlie’s letter flying off, the confetti falling on to the audience, Augustus Gloop being sucked up the pipe, how the chocolate disappeared as it shrunk into the television, and the flying glass elevator. The costumes were fantastic – particular Violet Beauregarde’s costume when it blew up like a blueberry; the Oompa Loompas’ costumes (a mix of like they were wearing big shoes, standing on each other, or hanging over something – as well as the ones that lit up) – and just generally how well the costumes reflected the characters from the original story.
The cast were indeed very talented and I am very much in awe of the young performers – who you could see were the very best to have the opportunity to perform at the West End. They were always performing even when the focus was not on them, keeping in their parts. This gave me so much to observe. They were consistently good with their speaking parts, facial expressions, singing and dancing. I think that Jonathan Slinger did an excellent job of playing Willy Wonka quite a fete after greats such as the late Gene Wilder and Johnny Depp. As a big fan of Eastenders I was thrilled to recognise Paul J Medford who hasn’t aged a jot! Mr Bucket was an understudy on the night we watched the performance – but you wouldn’t have been able to tell.
The humour was on so many levels. My younger boys really loved when the squirrels found the bad nuts and it went red. My teenager enjoyed the comical lines delivered in German. I liked the adult humour – such as the line about no it wasn’t butter scotch, Mr Wonka just likes scotch (you have to see it to get the joke!) and Mrs TV drinking vodka and taking tablets to cope with her son! Plus little things like when Mike TV was shrunk and went from television to television and it was said that he was “channel hoping.”
The modern day twists: Let’s be honest the original story is about how all these children and spoilt and then misbehave – apart from Charlie Bucket who never had anything so is so grateful and well behaved. My interpretation of the musical wasn’t like this – as I saw Mrs TV struggling to be the best parent she could be with her son who had ADHD and was taking Ritalin. That actually it was easier for her just to keep him in the house on the television as she was getting no help with him. That when he shrunk she was actually grateful as she may be able to manage things. That actually people just judge when they do not know the whole story. That Violet has just been pushed into the limelight and is just trying to please her father and that actually – even though Charlie Bucket is good at putting a positive spin on things (such as a book with no ending meaning it allows him to be creative) and being happy with just an everlasting gob stopper – he is in fact unable to stop making something out of nothing!
Charlie and the Charlie Factory is an amazing musical and well worth a visit!
The show is recommended for those ages 6 and over, and under 3s are not allowed in the auditorium. Curtains go up promptly at the start of the performance and entry is then at certain intervals in the show so as not to disturb others.
This modern adaptation of Roald Dahl’s 1964 original story is a world premiere musical produced by Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures, Neal Street Productions and Kevin McCormick; and directed by Academy Award® winner Sam Mendes; music by Marc Shaiman; lyrics by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman (Grammy® winners for Hairspray; Smash); a book by award-winning playwright and adaptor David Greig (The Bacchae; Tintin In Tibet); set and costume designs by Mark Thompson (Mamma Mia!; One Man, Two Guvnors) and choreography by Peter Darling (Billy Elliot; Matilda).
For more information visit: http://www.charlieandthechocolatefactory.com/
My family and I were invited for purposes of review. All words and opinions are honest and my own.