There is nothing more magical than a trip to the theatre, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory took that to new extremes.
Staying close to the original story, the show is packed full of songs and tricks. I have never seen a show that has so much technology involved in it. Everything from a paper plane literally flying the length of the theatre to the glass elevator actually flying, it had it all. There were a few moments where the flashing lights involved were a little bit extreme – and I hope warnings were given to anyone that it might trigger attacks for – and left you blinking stars out of your eyes. But watching the elevator stay suspended mid-air in a backdrop of a night’s sky was certainly magical.
It wasn’t just the technology that was impressive, but the use of the stage itself. A “television” set was almost a mini-stage suspended above the main so “broadcasts” were still people acting in there and then. The use of trapdoors and heights were effectively done, especially to help create the mystery that is the chocolate factory.
So, onto the people themselves. Charlie is played by four different boys which is only natural considering his age. It does mean that I’m not entirely sure who was in my performance, but I do know he had talent. His voice was strong and talented and his acting superb. All of the child actors were fantastic, as was the adult cast. The only drawback was that in some of the songs – and even some of the speeches by some of the children – there was so much emphasis placed on the way they were speaking it was hard to understand precisely what they were saying.
The oompa-loompas were very cleverly done. Portrayed as being small the way the traditional portrayal of them is, it was the head and arms of a person, but then puppet legs. You couldn’t see the puppeteer, however, only it was at a very particular angle because their costume and the screening meant they were practically invisible. Other tricks were used throughout to give the appearance of them being only small – and it was very clever.
We were fortunate enough to have an excellent view from where we were sitting and even the ability to lean forward when things were taking place right on the edge of the stage, the only part we couldn’t see as well. There was a young family next to us and it was great to see just how excited the entranced the children were about what was taking place in front of them. An old story but the morals had been updated to be just as relevant today.
For a night of theatre magic, I think this might be the best that I’ve seen. You are literally left staring at the stage in wonder when something happens that you either did not expect or couldn’t explain. The acting was superb, the songs catchy and the storyline as brilliant as when Rahl Dahl first wrote it.