MUSICAL REVIEW: Charlie and The Chocolate Factory ★★★

Charlie and The Chocolate Factory
Theatre royal Drury Lane, London
Saturday 29th October 2016

Charlie and The Chocolate Factory is a creation from Roald Dahl that was written as a book in 1964, turned into a film in 1971 before a remake with Johnny Deep in 2005, and now has been on the West End since 2013, and next year will be premiering in Broadway. I have wanted to see this production since it opened all those years ago, and so finally, after three years at the West End I have managed to witness it, and have come out with mixed feelings.

There has been criticism that the first act especially is too bland, with the majority of the action taking place at the Buckets house, and this is true, but I really liked this fact because it meant we could gather a lot of character development from the main protagonist that is Charlie and his mad family! I loved the action taking place inside the house, with some brilliant songs like when the grandma and grandpa's sing about Willy Wonka whilst a projection is shown behind them, a really creative way I personally think to portray such a great song, and giving a nod also to the films story about the chocolate mosque!

Now another known criticism is the characters songs in the show when they are announced as the golden ticket winners - I do agree that they are not very memorable in the fact that I won't remember the lyrics and have them hummed in my head on the journey home, but they were still fun little songs that had spectacle to them with the use of the 3D television that was suspended on stage, which really boggled my mind with how this was possible!

Now for a personal criticism, which sadly had to be Jonathan Slinger's debut song at the very end of the first act - as someone who has heard the cast recording soundtrack since the show opened, I have almost visioned myself singing 'It must be Believed to be Seen’ due to the power ballad that is heard, showcasing the wackiness that Wonka is, but Slinger's performance felt weak and held back, like he wasn't giving any of the electrifying passion that Douglas Hodge, who was the first Willy Wonka on the West End, gave in the cast recording CD, so was disappointed by Slinger's performance in this number!

The second act really lifted the production more with not only more character driven songs but set designs that really shine on stage and looked amazing - each room being carefully detailed to make them look authentic, with my personal favourite set piece being The Invention Room. The travel between rooms was also incredibly clever, with lifts, running and even a boat, though not as scary as the one in the movie, to transport our characters through the factory.

Noah Crump portrayed the role of Charlie with marvellous fashion and was a real lovable kid, and even the other kids brought so much energy and charisma to their characters that at times it was hard to believe that they were just acting! Slinger stepped up in the second act also with his sarcastic humour at times having the audience in laughter when it came to referring to the children, and the finale's reprise of ‘It must be Believed to be Seen’ become an emotional end to the production.

Overall, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was an enjoyable night at the theatre led with character driven stories and songs, but felt worn out at times due to unmemorable tunes that sadly let this production down, as well as a personal disheartening from Slinger's performance at times!


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