On Thursday last week I went to see Charlie & The Chocolate Factory at the Theatre Royal in Covent Garden. Yes, Charlie Bucket and Wonka’s chocolate factory has finally come to the live stage in a production directed by Oscar winning film director Sam Mendes.
What I expected?
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect as the show is still in previews but as it officially launches next week on June 25th, I was hoping it was going to be pretty much done and dusted with any hiccups out the way. Charlie and The Chocolate Factory also being one of my favourite Roald Dahl books, I wondered would Sam Mendes be able to recreate my imagination?
When we arrived…
The theatre was absolutely buzzing and fully booked when we got there. So many excited children waiting to see Willy Wonka himself. The crowd was very excitable and cheered as the curtain lifted!
The first half starts a bit slowly, setting the scene of introducing Charlie, his grandparents and parents living poorly and collecting bits and pieces from the junkyard. As soon as the Golden Tickets are announced, that is when it gets really interesting. The set transforms into a giant TV introducing the child winners, Augustus Gloop, Violet Beauregarde, Mike Teavee, Veruca Salt and of course Charlie Bucket. Each child has been modernised with Mike loving video games not just obsessed with TV like in the book and Violet becoming a sort of reality/R&B wannabee with an entourage to bring it up-to-date.
The second half I really enjoyed the most, the sets got more elaborate, the best I have ever seen in the West End and the fun really begins! I won’t say too much but seeing Augustus get sucked up through a tube was pretty amazing and also Mike going inside the TV… oh and the squirrels (I’m being very cryptic here). The Oompa Loompas were spectacular, with them getting the biggest cheer of the night! Mr Wonka is as eccentric as ever played by Douglas Hodge, who was very believable as the character.
My favourite part was seeing Charlie and Wonka in the glass elevator, singing Pure Imagination. Which is the only song taken from the film version, with all the others being original material.
If you love Charlie & The Chocolate Factory the theatre edition does not disappoint, with the sets and effects making it one to not miss. I just wish my seat had been a bit closer to all the action, so make sure yours is!