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Charlie And The Chocolate Factory: The Musical - Review

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Beloved characters come to life on the stage
Have you ever met a child who didn't love Roald Dahl's story, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? I never have, so it's not surprising that this classic children's book has stood the test of time and is still just as popular today as when it was first published over 50 years ago.

The much-loved story follows Charlie Bucket, whose life is turned upside down when he finds one of five Golden Tickets, giving him entry into Willy Wonka's chocolate factory and a world of pure imagination. For those who loved the book and the film adaptations, now you can see these beloved characters come to life on the stage in this musical production.

Charlie Chocolate Factory Sydney Capitol Theatre
Now you can see the beloved characters come to life on stage

The Sydney musical is based on the Broadway production and is directed by Jack O'Brien. It includes some iconic songs from the original movie such as The Candy Man, Pure Imagination and I've Got a Golden Ticket, plus a host of new songs with music by Marc Shaiman, lyrics by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman and choreography by Joshua Bergasse.

Four young boys share the role of Charlie in this production - 11 year olds Oliver Alkhair and Tommy Blair, 9 year old Xion Jarvis and 13 year old Ryan Yeates. At the performance I attended, the role of Charlie was played with aplomb by Tommy Blair.

Charlie Chocolate Factory Sydney Capitol Theatre Review
Oliver Alkhair is one of four boys who play Charlie in the musical (Image Credit: Jeff Busby)

Paul Slade Smith plays an enigmatic Willy Wonka, who is quirky, humorous and charms the audience with many irreverent asides. Lucy Maunder plays the role of Mrs Bucket flawlessly, while Tony Sheldon plays the role of Grandpa Joe, injecting humour and a splash of Aussie flavour into the show, with multiple local references specifically for the Australian audience.

charlie Chocolate Factory Sydney Capitol Theatre review
Lucy Maunder as Mrs Bucket, Tony Sheldon as Grandpa Joe and Tommy Blair as Charlie (Image Credit: Jeff Busby)

The first half of the show introduces us to Charlie and his family and to Willy Wonka and the story of his mysterious chocolate factory. The sets are sparse and the pace is measured reflecting Charlie's poverty and the dullness of his life. However, the excitement builds as each coveted golden ticket is found and the audience is introduced through song to the four other golden ticket winners - Augustus Gloop, Veruca Salt, Violet Beauregard and Mike Teavee.

charlie Chocolate Factory Sydney Capitol Theatre review
Jake Fehily as Augustus and Octavia Barron Martin as Mrs Gloop and cast (Image Credit: Jeff Busby)

While the characters stay essentially true to Dahl's novel, it was refreshing to see that some of the traits and flaws of these characters have been modernised to make them more relevant to today's audience. The musical numbers performed by each of these characters was met with great applause, particularly More Of Him To Love which features Augustus Gloop and Mrs Gloop in a singing and dancing Bavarian sausage fest, while Queen Of Pop sees Violet Beauregard strutting her stuff with her fame-obsessed father. Indeed, both of these numbers were favourites for me. As the first half of the show closes, the five golden ticket holders are brought together at the entrance of the chocolate factory, anxiously waiting to see what is inside.

Charlie Chocolate Factory Sydney Capitol Theatre review
Wonderful surprises await inside the chocolate factory (Image credit: Jeff Busby)

After a 20-minute interval, which is just enough time to replenish your Wonka snacks from the Candy Bar, the second half of the show picks up the pace immediately as the characters and the audience are dazzled by the marvellous creations of Willy Wonka. It is here, inside the chocolate factory, that the set comes alive with projections, scenery and special effects to impress the audience and we see each character meet their pre-destined, and unusually sticky end.

Perhaps the most surprising "special effect" is the clever and delightful portrayal of the Oompa Loompas, who were another highlight of the show and a favourite with the audience. However I won't spoil the surprise, you'll have to wait to see it for yourself.

Charlie Chocolate Factory Sydney Capitol Theatre Review
The young stars of the show: Tommy Blair, Ryan Yeates, Lucy Maunder (Mrs Bucket), Oliver Alkhair, Xion Jarvis (Image Credit: Peter Brew-Bevan)

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is an entertaining show that is perfect to share with your own children or grandchildren. The wonder and excitement of the chocolate factory are brought to life on the stage with fantastic performances from the cast. The show runs for 2 hours and 30 minutes which includes a 20-minute interval. The show is recommended for children over 6 years of age.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is showing now at the Capitol Theatre in Sydney and is expected to run until June 9 2019. For pricing and ticket information please click here.

charlie Chocolate factory Sydney Capitol Theatre Review
Don't miss this golden opportunity. Showing now at the Capitol Theatre in Sydney

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Why? You're invited to a world of pure imagination
When: Until 9th June 2019
Phone: Tickets 1300 558 878
Where: Capitol Theatre Sydney
Cost: See website for details
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