As a massive Roald Dahl fan I couldn’t wait to dip my toes into Willy’s Chocolate River for a new interpretation of one of my favourite stories; Charlie and The Chocolate Factory.
I think interpretation is the key word here. If you go in expecting the stage show to be similar to the film then you will be disappointed – so keep an open mind! Additionally, if you can get over the fact that the Oompa Loompas won’t be singing their iconic, humorous songs; you can really get on board with the fresh colour and life that has been brought to this adaptation.
From the very beginning, I was instantly amazed by the impressive detail on the stage production. The stage area has been utilised to its maximum potential using every inch of the three-dimensional stage. The story has been structured with the first half exploring the dark background of Charlie Bucket and his family, switching between the struggles of ordinary everyday life and scavenging for rubbish. You then have the giant glamorous TV sequences which introduce the other competition winners, which is a genius idea and had the majority of the audience laughing out loud. The moment when Charlie discovers the golden ticket pulls on everybody’s heart strings and with the introduction of the weird and wonderful Willy Wonka just before the interval it instantaneously transforms into pure magic.
As soon as you enter the chocolate factory you are overwhelmed with the magic, colour and energy of the world these children are about to be immersed within. As one by one the characters meet their tragic end, the amazing stage production displays this flawlessly. From Augustus Gloop quite literally getting sucked up a glass pipe to Violet Beauregarde turning into a giant blueberry, the imagination and detail that has gone into the production is nothing short of impressive. Not forgetting the tap dancing Oompa Loompas where again, the sheer inventiveness of this creation shines through with the puppetry used to imitate their size.
With the stage show drawing to a close in January before it moves to Broadway in the spring, everybody should go and see this immediately while you still have the chance. Filled with an immense amount of magic and nostalgia you can escape into the transformational magic of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate factory. I cannot praise the attention to detail within this production enough. Also, go and do a face swap with Augustus Gloop for extra hilarity.
- Augustus Gloop being sucked up the chocolate filled pipe – A hilarious and important moment in the story.
- The incredible set design (If I hadn’t mentioned it enough already) – The chocolate room looks good enough to eat!
- Pure Imagination – Watching Charlie and Willy Wonka fly in an invisible elevator in the sky brings back all those childhood memories and hits you right in the feels!
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