London Theatre Review: Charlie & The Chocolate Factory

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Charlie and The Chocolate Factory and the Theatre Royal Drury Lane

Official Description: ROALD DAHL’s deliciously dark tale of young Charlie Bucket and the mysterious confectioner Willy Wonka comes to life in a brand new West End musical directed by Academy Award® winner Sam Mendes. When Charlie wins a golden ticket to the weird and wonderful Wonka Chocolate Factory, it’s the chance of a lifetime to feast on the sweets he’s always dreamed of. But beyond the gates astonishment awaits, as down the sugary corridors and amongst the incredible edible delights, the five lucky winners discover not everything is as sweet as it seems. Featuring ingenious stagecraft, the wonder of the original story that has captivated the world for almost 50 years is brought to life with music by Marc Shaiman, and 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 The Musical; Matilda The Musical). A chocolate garden, an army of squirrels and the curiously peculiar Oompa-Loompas must be believed to be seen in this gigantic new musical that is choc-full of fantastical treats to dazzle your senses.

My take: I only had time to see one show this time in London, and although there were far more serious and theatrical significant ventures to undertake,  I felt like light fluff and had always had the inkling to check out Charlie and The Chocolate factory (if you read my blog regularly you know I’m a sucker for a big musical) . Charlie did not dissapoint. What I liked the most about this musical, surprisingly, was not the lavish second act with all the factory settings, but the emotional first act, which pretty much takes place in Charlie’s house, and that in more than one instance had me with a tear in my eye. Kudos to Sam Mendes for the staging and direction, he definitively took the material and made wonders with it. The sets were fabulous, especially the TV montages in the first half, and the glass elevator (i love that they kept the imagination song from the movie). I also thought the ocnception of the ompa loompas was very creative .Is the show perfect, no, but it is definitely worth seeing.There is one problem, I was missing some powerful singing. Don’t get me wrong Alex Jennings is a fabulous actor and his Willy Wonka is amazing, but he’s not the best of singers, so the songs were passable but not showstoppers. Also there is no one song I left humming when I left the theater, they are all good but not great songs.

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