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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - The Musical

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - The Musical

Roald Dahl's Charlie and The Chocolate Factory The Musical - the devilishly delicious tale of young golden ticket winner Charlie Bucket and the mysterious confectionary wizard Willy Wonka, will be embarking on its first ever UK & Ireland Tour.  This dazzling new production of the successful West End and Broadway musical will take you to a world of pure imagination.

When Charlie wins a golden ticket to the weird and wonderful Wonka Chocolate Factory, it’s a chance of a lifetime to feast on the sweets they’ve always dreamed of. But beyond the gates astonishment awaits, as down the sugary corridors and amongst the incredible and edible delights, the five lucky winners discover not everything is as sweet as it seems.

Featuring memorable songs from the iconic 1970s film as well as a host of new numbers, this sensational musical is choc-full of fantastical treats to dazzle your senses.

Don’t miss out, grab your GOLDEN Ticket!

Based on the novel by Roald Dahl and the Warner Bros. film.

Watch our interview with Gareth Snook, who plays the role of Willy Wonka.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - The Musical Tickets

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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - The Musical ON TOUR

Our review on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - The Musical

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory The Musical - Palace Theatre, Manchester - Wednesday 12th July 2023 by Karen Ryder

Our Rating

I am a self-confessed book worm and my passion developed very early on in life as I was lucky enough to attend a primary school whose teachers not only believed in the power of offering children a magical escapism of pure imagination but believed in encouraging it too.  I was inspired every day, and author names such as Hazel Townsend, Richmal Crompton, our very own Headteacher David Webb, and of course Roald Dahl, were just as common as the student register.  Willy Wonka, Charlie Bucket, and Grandpa Joe were as real to me as anyone I could touch, and the chocolate factory was vividly clear to me.  I could visit it any time I liked, and I have to confess, I still do, and this authentic, unspoilt and cherished ability to dream, imagine and create is something I hold so dear to my heart, so I have to start by saying thank you Roald Dahl.  Thank you for your ability to ‘watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you.’

I’d like to think that everyone knows the story of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, but we don’t want anyone left locked outside those factory gates, so just incase, here it goes.  Charlie and his family have very little in terms of money and possessions, but he does have an insatiable appetite to dream and make something out of nothing.  He is an inventor at heart, and so mix that with a love for chocolate and it is no wonder that the myth and legend of Willy Wonka has become a hero to him.  Living with his mum and four grandparents, the house is filled with love and whilst Charlie is grateful for his lot in life, he still can’t help but wish for his birthday and the elusive Wonka bar he hopes will come his way.  This desire is only propelled forward by the announcement that Wonka is opening his factory to the five lucky people who find a golden ticket hidden in their chocolate bar.  Just as Charlie thinks all hope is lost, he finds himself holding the fifth golden ticket!  Elated, he enters the factory with the other winners, and discovers a world of pure imagination, a world where no one leaves quite the same way they went in.  Wonka promises a prize to the winner, and as Charlie finds he is the only one left, he finds that all his dreams might just come true.

You will enter a world of pure delight from the moment you enter the building for the air is pumped full of the sweet fragrance of chocolate and sweets, giving your inner child free reign to come out to play.  It is magical, and with the staff playing along stating, “of course you can smell chocolate, there’s a chocolate factory downstairs!” it set the scene for a place where the real world is left outside, and creation and fantasy are a must.  As you enter the auditorium, a metal dumping ground dominates the stage, a playground of opportunity for Charlie, where old things can be reinvented and given a new life.  The piece expertly slides apart to reveal the sweet shop, and just as easily transitions into the Bucket family home, a two levelled design full of intricate details, and props seemingly hidden in every nook and cranny.  As the story unfolds, we have break out moments from the Bucket household, to across the globe where we meet the winners of the golden tickets.  Each character brings a burst of colour, vibrance, and contrast to the thread bare and gloomy Bucket home.  These moments expertly switch up the pace, the vibe, and the flavour of the show to keep you on your toes.

We are first introduced to Augustus Gloop (performed with a brilliant and quirky humour by Robin Simões  Da Silva) via an energetic yodelling song, complete with lederhosen, sausages, and a pigs head!  And if you think that’s bizarre, you ain’t seen nothing yet!  Violet Beauregarde (the enigmatic Marisha Morgan) treats us to a basketball inspired pop music reel, whilst Veruca Salt (brilliantly portrayed by Kazmin Borrer) creates a new blend of ballet meets explosive tantrum!  Mike Teavee (the fabulous Teddy Hinde) is introduced via a hip hop style mash up with toy laser guns and as the songs keep coming, it is finally time for Charlie to find his ticket.  As he does so, the audience erupt with love, support and joy for this gorgeous character as he finally gets his chance in life, and we all know what awaits him.  I don’t know if this happens at every show, but it was quite emotional.  The sheer love throughout the theatre for this fictional character, the underdog, was phenomenal and spoke volumes as to just how meaningful this story is to so many.  Then it was time to meet Mr. Willy Wonka.  The show had been brilliant up to this point, and you could feel the anticipation, tension, and expectation rising.  The reveal of Willy Wonka is one of the story’s huge moments and I won’t give the magical entrance itself away, but I will shout from the top of the glass elevator that Gareth Snook typhooning onto the stage as Wonka, caused a wonderful whirlwind I never knew I needed!  The show suddenly transcended into an entirely different stratosphere!  I have no words to fully do his entrance justice, but majestical, demanding, captivating and with a beautifully precise hyperactive energy, it felt like the show had now truly begun.

The second half danced to the beat of its own drum and our tour around the chocolate factory stood perfectly apart from the real world of the first half.  Magic, illusion, technology, and showmanship combine to dazzle you and make any scepticism succumb to the fantasy world unfurling before your very eyes (credit to Chris Fisher - illusions, Tim Mitchell - lighting, Mike Walker - sound and Simon Wainwright - video design.)  Sweets appear out of thin air, stardust fills the skies, rollercoasters with tracks made out of Wonka bars are merely a regular mode of transportation, and a new invention is just around every corner.  But fear not, you will also discover everything you know and love about the chocolate factory.  You will laugh without limits as Violet turns into a blueberry, squeal with delight as giant squirrels dominate the stage ready to spot a good nut from a bad one, smile a chocolatey and wistful smile as the famous chocolate waterfall and river flows before your very eyes, and gasp in wonder as a human is transported through the air and into a tv screen!  And just in case you are wondering, yes there is a glass elevator, and yes it really does fly!    

New and varied songs have been penned for this musical by Mark Shaiman and Scott Wittman, from the rousing song from Grandpa Joe, culminating in the stunningly moving ‘The View From Here.’  Every song is so individual because they have allowed the characters to lead and dictate their own style, instead of trying to make them all fit the same genre.  It is incredibly respectful of Roald Dahl's wonderful writing.  Emily Jane Boyle echoes this sentiment with individual and unique choreography for each character and segments of the story as it unfolds.  Simon Higlett has designed the set and costumes with such detail, precision, and humour that there is a giggle to be found in every moment, such as Grandpa Joe’s uniform being that of a bus conductor, and the fact that he is still wearing his slippers, or the countless surplus stuffed animals decorating Veruca’s ballet bar!  And even the appearance and reappearance of the modernised silver Oompah Loompa’s are accessorised to match each character, from basketball shirts to tutus! 

James Brining has brought this children’s classic to life by directing with a tender loving care that somehow also free to break the rules, live a little, and keep you on the edge of your seat despite knowing the story back to front.  Charlie Bucket does not come across as saccharine, as is the risk, but instead, a strong and feisty child with a good heart and a belief in making the impossible possible.  Performed tonight by Haydn Court (Newsies, Bedknobs & Broomsticks, Matilda), an undeniable talent who may have been the youngest cast member on stage, but who earned every moment of applause and standing ovations received at the end of the show for this was a flawless performance.  This was Charlie Bucket!  No question of it.  An incredible achievement.  Michael D’Cruze (West Side Story, The Quartered Man, JCS) as Grandpa Joe was alive with energy, bringing a protective yet dare devil quality to the surface that made his relationship with Charlie so natural and exciting.

The inclusion of sign language from the characters was brilliant and it was even better to hear some young audience members stating they understood some of it from learning it at school.  Another great directing choice was the dual roles (Christopher HowellGrandpa George and Mr. Salt, Kate Milner EvansGrandma Josephine and Mrs. Gloop, Emily WinterGrandma Georgina and Mrs. B, and Leonie SpilsburyMrs. Bucket, Mrs. Teavee).  They were so strong and clear, that with all honesty it was only looking at the programme that I even realised this was the case!  And once again I come back to Gareth Snook (Phantom, Les Mis, My Fair Lady) as Willy Wonka, who was so zany, unpredictable, and utterly bonkers, with an addictive quality which is so uniquely personal to him that I am wasting my time even trying to name it!  People always ask the question when referencing this character, who is your favourite Wonka, Gene Wilder or Johnny Depp?  I can now truthly answer, neither.  It’s Gareth Snook!

Reignite with your childhood and offer the gift of imagination to those still in theirs, with a trip to The Palace Theatre to watch Charlie And The Chocolate Factory The Musical.  There was a passion, a delight, and an innocent wonder dancing in the eyes of the audience, both old and young, and as I stood waiting to leave, I couldn’t help but listen to a teacher talking to her group of students.  She asked them to give an on-the-spot review.  Each child gave it five stars, apart from one who quite magnificently said the only stars that mattered were the ones we had just watched on the stage!  Their favourite parts seemed to vary from “a bouncing blueberry”, to “the wicked light creations”, to “seeing the factory come alive better than I dared to ever believe.”  So as you can see, I really wouldn’t bother grabbing your golden ticket to watch the show…….Wait!  Strike that!  Reverse!  Grab your ticket now, and remember, as the song says, “It must be believed to be seen!”



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