Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory the Musical: Theatre Review

Written in 1964, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is one of Roald Dahl’s most loved books. Also made into two films (one in 1971 and one in 2005) its a franchise that people of all ages have loved and grown up with, and now its a West End Musical! 
The production is very good, its magical with elements that truly are astounding and take you back to your childhood. Quite often I found myself with my jaw almost to the ground at some of the aspects of the show. Sam Mendes’s direction flows so well with huge help from the swift and flawless scene changes. He has brought the sharpness that movies have to the stage, you do not get bored at any point in the show. The pace of it moves quite fast, too fast at some points. You almost feel like some things could have been cut out to enable some of the really good moments to be drawn out a little. The set, by Mark Thompson, was fantastic. 
The huge TV was the highlight of the show for me, the songs and staging of these sections were brilliant! My favorite being ‘The Double Bubble Duchess’ sung by Violet Beauregrade, her father and ‘entourage’. By far the best thing about the show for me, but I wish this section were longer! They were just small snippets. One thing I wasn’t fond of was the opening video, instead of the classic overture we had a projection of how they make chocolate. This is interesting and I liked how they used the same illustration as the Roald Dahl books however the aesthetics of the projection didn’t fit in with the design of the show. Mark Thompson is the designer and he has produced some epic work! The set has its faults like the awful chocolate river but most of the time its spot on. Its everything you’d want, loved and treasured aspects of the show have been transformed into something new that still pays homage to the original idea but with a spin on them. I also love how he’s used colour in the show, every location is established with a new colour scheme which really is like a child's pop up book. 
They use projections a lot in the show, Jon Driscoll has obviously learnt from his mistakes made in musicals (such as the dreadful and dull projections in The Wizard of Oz) because he produces amazing projections that are completely faultless! They are used to show the transitions between each room and they work so well! A lot of them were 3D as well which was amazing. Its great to see modern technology actually used to its full advantage in the theatre. 
Peter Darling is, in my opinion, one of the best choreographers of our time along with Andrew Wright. He seems to be someone who choreographs with purpose rather than just doing it to add in some dance. The choreography along with the direction and design were so in-sync, it was pulled together really well. The score is what lets this production down, although whilst your in there listening it is really fun and fresh with a modern edge but when you’re out (even at the interval) its very forgettable. Everyone was wondering how they were going to do the Oompa Loompas and they are not what you expect, far from what has been done before. The only way I believe they could have pulled it off is by making fun of them, and that just what they did! Really paid homage to the original book, which I think Roald Dahl would be very proud of. 
Douglas Hodge plays Willy Wonka, he plays on the comedy in the book really well but his portrayal seems pretty empty. Wonka doesn’t seem to have much of a personality and there wasn’t anything weird about him which is why other portrayals of Wonka have been so loved. Previously they’ve added on a kind of sinister side to him which wasn’t touched upon in the Musical. A very bland character but sung very well by Douglas Hodge, he does well with the material given to him. 
Nigel Planner plays Grandpa Joe and he has been perfectly cast, his charisma filled the Drury Lane theatre. Jack Shalloo and Alex Clatworthy play Mr and Mrs Bucket and they are so sweet as a couple and as parents, the additions of Roni Page (Grandma Josephine), Billy Boyle (Grandpa George) and Myra Sands (Grandma Georgina) added a really humourous feel to first Act, they were the excitement that pushed it along when the book was dragging. 
The children in the show are astonishing, Jack Costello played Charlie and he was the cutest thing. He made you feel all warm and fussy inside! Jenson Steele played Augustus Gloop and he, along with Jasna Ivir who played his mother, were the funniest thing! Prime example that over acting doesn’t get you laughs. Tia Noakes and Jay Heyman played Veruca Salt and Mike Teavee, incredible energy and professionalism that was beyond their years. Adrianna Bertola played Violet Beauregarde and she was outstanding! 
I loved what they did with the character and she played it so well, her talent is far beyond her years! I felt like there wasn’t much attention paid to the parents of the children but I loved the characters they all created nevertheless, the different personalities was a joy to watch on stage. Clive Carter (Mr Salt), Jasna Ivir (Mrs Gloop), Paul J Medford (Mr Beauregarde) and Isis Roberts (Mrs Teavee) were fabulous additions to the cast, a special mention must go to Isis Roberts who stood out for me. I must mention Kate Graham who played the TV reporter Cherry, amazing energy and hilarious delivery of the lines. She stands out as one of my favorite things about this show. The ensemble are brilliant, I can not make an special mention to individuals as they were all at the same level which was sensational! 
This show is brilliant, such an exciting thing to come to London. Although the score isn’t the strongest thing ever the production value makes up for it. Go and experience this show, you will not be disappointed! 

Rating: ****

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory runs at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane 

Cast Includes: Douglas Hodge, Clive Carter, Jasna Ivir, Paul J. Medford, Iris Roberts, Billy Boyle, Roni Page, Myra Sands, Nigel Planner, Joe Allen, David Birch, Alex Louize Bird, Michelle Bishop, Mireia Mambo Bokele, Simon Campbell, Matthew Clark, Alex Clatworthy, Jennifer Davison, Ross Dawes, Nia Fisher, Kate Graham, Derek Hagen, Clare Halse, Mark Iles, Daniel Ioannou, Kieran Jae, Jane McMurtrie, Natalie Moore-Williams, Sherrie Pennington, Damien Poole, Antony Reed, Paul Saunders, Jack Shalloo, Jay Webb, Jack Costello, Tom Klenerman, Issac Rouse, Louis Suc, Polly Allen, India Ria Amarteifio, Adrianna Bertola, Jay Heyman, Jade Johnson, Adam Mitchell, Tia Noakes, Mya Olaye, Ellie Simmons, Harrison Slater, Jenson Steele, Regan Stokes and Luca Toomey.  

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