For my friend’s birthday present we took a trip to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, just off Covent Garden, and I’m so glad we did as it was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen!
Roald Dahl’s classic story was bought to life in a truly magical way, which certainly lived up to its original film counterpart (starring Gene Wilder) and positively outshone Tim Burton’s offering. The staging of the production was absolutely epic, with big, bold sets and costumes to bring Willy Wonka’s legendary chocolate factory to life. Several magical illusions were also used which really added to the sense of magic and mystery which surrounds the factory, and in fact one of my favourite parts was when Charlie wrote Wonka a letter, folded it into a paper aeroplane, and threw it out to the audience. Instead of hitting the orchestra conductor squarely between the eyes, it actually flew all the way over the audiences’ heads and swooped up to the far left hand corner of the Upper Circle! Amazing!
The production also openly pays reference and reverence to the fact that it is based on a children’s novel which, being an English Literature graduate, I rather liked. The play begins with a huge “book” being opened and storytelling narrative explaining how chocolate is made, with accompanying images by Quentin Blake – nostalgic for the adults of the audience, and enchanting for the kids.
The show is fresh and fun, with almost all entirely new songs and some modern twists on the characters of the children. I wasn’t sure how much I liked Violet Beauregarde being transformed into a mini rapping diva, but I’m sure it resonated well with the younger members of the audience, and I appreciate the fact that this is a new adaptation of the tale, and not merely a stage version of the 1971 film.
The four bed-ridden grandparents, Grandpa Joe, Grandma Josephine, Grandpa George and Grandma Georgina were brilliant and provided lots of laughs for the audience! Also absolutely hilarious were the gloriously gluttonous Augustous Gloop and his equally excessive mother (both decked out in full Lederhosen!) The Oompa Loompas of course also need a mention, and were handled in a very creative way with costume being used to suggest their height and also clever puppetry, using two actors to play one character; one using their arms to be the little legs, and another to provide the head, torso and arms! However the star of the show for me had to be little Charlie Bucket! I’ve blogged previously (see my review of To Kill A Mockingbird) about how rare it is to find child actors that can match their adult peers in skill and talent, but the young actor who played Charlie really was fantastic!* Singing, dancing and acting his little heart out, he shone as the innocent and imaginative Charlie, always in character and constantly drawing the audience’s eyes to him, even in ensemble scenes.
Are you a fan of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? Which of the 5 ticket winners is your favourite?
*Unfortunately I’m not sure of the actor who played Charlie’s name as the role is shared between 4 actor’s and I’m not sure who was performing the night I went.
I live in Brixton in London. I eat out far too much, am always planning my next trip and have a borderline unhealthy obsession with Harry Potter.