CHARLIE and the Chocolate Factory – The Musical is an enchanting theatrical production that brings Roald Dahl’s classic tale to life.
Whilst the stage production follows the original story, a noticeable difference from the offset in this performance is that Charlie Bucket is a girl.
There are four children who play Charlie throughout this tour (with a 50/50 male and female split), our Charlie was played by Jessie-Lou Harvie who took on this role flawlessly – she brought such innocence and heart to the role, making the audience route for her from start to finish.
Our story begins in the scrapyard, where Charlie is searching for gifts for her grandparents unveiling her selflessness and desire to ‘make something out of nothing’.
The Bucket family home is pretty much derelict and whilst their pockets are empty, their hearts remain full.
There are some truly beautiful moments with a subtle yet clever incorporation of sign language in these home scenes by Mrs Bucket (Leonie Spilsbury), Grandma Josephine (Kate Milner Evans), Grandpa George (Christopher Howell), Grandma Georgina (Emily Winter) and Grandpa Joe (Michael D’Cruze).
During the first act we are introduced to the golden ticket winners, each more obnoxious and spoilt than the first – August Gloop (Robin Simões Da Silva), Veruca Salt (Kazmin Borrer), Violet Beauregarde (Marisha Morgan) and Mike Teavee (Teddy Hinde).
That is until little Charlie Bucket finally has luck in her favour and chances upon a golden ticket.
Whilst the actors who played the four ticket winners did a great job, I must admit I was disappointed that these were not also played by child actors and it took me while to adjust and draw me back in.
I’m sure there is good reason, but with award winning-adaptations like Roald Dahl’s Matilda, I think this was a missed opportunity to capture our young audience.
Whilst the first act had some lovely moments (particularly in the Bucket family home) the show really came alive in the second act once we were transported into Willy Wonka’s world of pure imagination.
An outstanding performance by Gareth Snook who played Wonka coupled with the illusions by Chris Fisher gave this number a real sense of magic and had me gasping with joy.
This set the precedent for the second act and the rest of the factory tour – where the vibrant sets (Simon Higlett) and creative choreography (Emily Jane Boyle) – executed with high energy from every cast member- created a visually stunning experience.
The musical successfully captures the moral lessons of the original story, emphasising the importance of kindness, family, and the consequences of greed.
Overall, it is a heart-warming show for all the family which is sure to leave you with a smile on your face, a spring in your
step and a real hankering for some chocolate.
Charlie and The Chocolate Factory will be at the Birmingham Hippodrome until November 5 when it will then continue it’s UK and Ireland tour.
Click here for times, tickets and more information.
Reviewed by Olivia Skye