Close your eyes, make a wish and count to three.
When you see Charlie and the chocolate factory the new musical directed by Jack O’Brien it really is that simple. From the get-go, you truly are taken into a world of pure imagination with twists and turns along the way. One might even put it as reliving your childhood. Those of you that have grown-up with the original movie with Gene Wilder will know what I’m talking about.
Young, old and in between there is something for everyone in this magical production. Whether it be the eye-popping sets/costumes (Mark Thompson, Nancy Thun and Rory Powers), The illusions and or puppetry aka theatre magic (Basil Twist) which by the way this show is worth going just to see what they do with the Oompa Loompas they are remarkable, The very cleverly written dialogue/script (David Greig), Or the extremely catchy and jazzy songs that I guarantee will be stuck in your head for days to come (Marc Shaiman and Scott Whittman) there are some fantastic new additions in there but don’t worry too much cause naturally the classics from the original movie you know and love are in there too.
Those that know me personally will know I tend to become attached way too easily. So with that being said please don’t get me started on the amazing cast of performers. Because we could be here all day.
But talk about casting done right my word… Paul Slade Smith as Willy Wonka is perfection. Paul has the balance of madness, kindness, gentleness, evilness, wit and humour just right. While of course still making the character his own (not an easy task), The role of loveable Charlie Bucket is shared by five Melbourne boys but on opening night twelve-year-old Lenny Thomas took flight. I have to say I was gobsmacked at this young boys talent all round. Let alone his ability to get charlie’s innocence, courage and heart across so strongly like he did. I can’t begin to imagine just how proud his parents would have been, Karina Russell has the self-confessed princess Veruca Salt that thinks the world revolves around her down pat and does it with such ease, And where would a princess be without her daddy right? well, Stephen Anderson has that well covered and quite comically too might I add, Octavia Barron Martin and Jake Fehily are a delight to behold as Mrs Gloop and Augustus Gloop, Then there’s Jayme Lee Hanekom as Violet Beaurgarde aka diva aka the queen of pop who brings so much colour and sass to the role it’s unreal, Madison Mckoy has the cool dad thing going on as Mr Beaurgarde who rightfully thinks his daughter is a star, believes in her and wants her to succeed in life no matter the cost, Lucy Maunder plays Mrs Bucket and does so with such grace and love that will be sure to warm your heart, Tony Sheldon as Grandpa Joe brings his flair of fun cheekiness that all grandpas should have, and last but not least there’s Jayde Westaby and Harrison Riley as Mrs Teavee and Mike Teavee. Both did an amazing job don’t get me wrong but I particularly loved Harrison Riley’s portrayal of Mike Teavee it was so fresh and relatable to the 21st century in the way of him being your typical moody teenager who’s addicted to video games, T.V. and a screen of any sort really.
All in all, I really want to commend the entire cast and company on doing such a hands-down phenomenal job. It really is no wonder they are playing to sold-out audiences and standing ovations every night.
Charlie and the chocolate factory is now playing at Her Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne until March 2020 so what are you waiting for? come and step into this world of pure imagination before it disappears. Visit charliethemusical.com.au for tickets.