Previewed 22 May 2013, Opened 25 June 2013, Closed 7 January 2017 at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in London
A major new stage musical version of Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in London featuring new songs by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman.
It must be believed to be seen Charlie Bucket loves chocolate - and Mr Willy Wonka, the most wondrous inventor in the world, is opening the gates of his amazing chocolate factory to five lucky children. It's the prize of a lifetime and all you have to do is find one of the five Golden Tickets. Charlie is the last lucky winner to join Willy Wonka in a tour of his factory - where some amazing surprises, both good and bad, await the children.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in London is directed by Sam Mendes with choreography by Peter Darling and designs by Mark Thompson. The musical has been adapted from the book by Roald Dahl by David Greig and new songs from Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman. Roald Dahl's other London shows include the musical Matilda, Fantastic Mr Fox and The Witches.
When this production opened Simon Edge in the Daily Express praised it as being "undoubtedly a triumph of exuberant stagecraft. Designer Mark Thompson delivers one joyous surprise after another," while in the Daily Telegraph Charles Spencer also highlighted that "the sets are massive, the special effects amazing." Over in the Daily Mirror Alun Palmer described how "director Sam Mendes has created a £10million show with a heart bigger than a city" and writing in the Guardian Michael Billington thought that "the success of Sam Mendes's production lies in its reminder that, for all the razzle-dazzle of Mark Thompson's sets and costumes, Dahl's story is essentially a moral fable," concluding by saying that "all this is testament to Mendes's skill in masterminding a lavish bonanza of a musical without letting us forget that Dahl's book is a morality play in which vice is punished and virtue gets its edible reward." Ian Shuttleworth in the Financial Times wrote that "David Greig's adaptation, and Sam Mendes' production, do well at matching the Dahlian blend of wonder, darkness and cheek... Overall, the brief in this case clearly is one of visual ravishment plus warm glow, and Mendes, Greig and all concerned come up to the mark. It is flavoursome yet familiar, and above all it won't rot your teeth." In the London Evening Standard Henry Hitchings said: "This is the biggest homegrown musical of the year, and even if it doesn't quite live up to the early hype it's a tremendously inventive show. The industrious Oompa-Loompas are among its candy-coated pleasures, and the wizardry with which they're brought to life is typical of a production that delights in its own cleverness. Yet the poignancy of Roald Dahl's classic story remains... with Mark Thompson's design a parade of stunning backdrops and equally dazzling effects... Mendes's sense of spectacle impresses, and the soft-centred moments are unexpectedly delicious." Arwa Haider in the London Metro highlighted that "happily, it blends epic staging with genuinely special ingredients... this adventure, with its soft-centred sentiments and nicely tart twists, remains a delectable treat." Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail explained that "the insuperable weakness of Sam Mendes' production is that we do not enter Willy Wonka's factory until the second half," adding that the producers should of "devoted more effort to heart and artistry instead of technical high jinks and pre-launch publicity." Paul Taylor in the Independent commented that "the score is tuneful yet wholly unmemorable... very engaging but rarely elating, this show is a skilful confection that doesn't quite produce the inspired sugar-rush of magic that's required." Libby Purves in the Times held that "it's a linear, folk-tale-simple narrative was always going to have trouble surprising us. Except, of course, with spectacle. So that is what Sam Mendes, the director, and Mark Thompson, the designer, concentrate on... the glass elevator does its thing, and the Oompa-Loompas are a highlight. Puppetry and illusions earn due gasps."
"Hot on the heels of the magical musicalisation of Matilda comes another Roald Dahl favourite, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory. So is this a golden ticket? There are flashes of visual brilliance, but not enough dramatic gold. And even the most pyrotechnically sophisticated director, Sam Mendes, laden with awards for Skyfall, can't overcome the linear simplicity of this morality tale about bad parenting and ungrateful, disobedient children... Alas, Marc Shaiman's score fails to hit any musical high notes, and is on song for just one number, Pure Imagination, borrowed from the film with Gene Wilder. And while the legendary glass elevator achieves lift-off, too much of this show remains disappointingly Earthbound." The Mail on Sunday
"Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is the quintessential tale of a child's dreams come true... Like all Dahl's stories, it's twisted, moralistic, and absolute catnip to children... What Mendes has created is a technological gobstopper of a production. Millions have been thrown at it, and it's undoubtedly multimedia-tastic, with animated sequences by Quentin Blake; film cutting into stage action; computer-generated backdrops; magic tricks; and, most impressive of all, sleights of hand, leg and costume to create the Oompah Loompahs. Mark Thompson's set and costumes are unquestionably eye-catching. But does it have a heart? Not enough for me... The songs, by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, are a gallimaufry of pastiches... the words are blasted out so loudly that it's hard to distinguish them - and when you can, they don't dance. Musically it's serviceable, but not memorable." The Sunday Telegraph
"Of the highest quality here are the choreography by Peter Darling - the techno-raving Oompa-Loompas in luminous bodysuits are, once seen, never forgotten - Mark Thompson's costumes and sets, and Mendes's command of dazzling, nonstop spectacle. He triumphantly resolves the (considerable) problems of how to render the creatures of Dahl's fantastically wayward imagination on stage. Even the glass elevator has lift-off. The Oompa-Loompas aren't children and they're not midgets, they're a tribe of naturally short people from Loompaland. How do you do this? Importing pygmies might be frowned on nowadays. But they are conjured before our eyes with some smart lighting, and more hilarious dance routines, making the very most of Shaiman and Wittman's winning score. It's a shame that some of the words are lost in the songs, usually because many of them are taken at such a lick... But even if it's not quite Matilda, it's still a hoot." The Sunday Times
David Greig, who is adapting Roald Dahl's book for the stage said: "I really, really believe that if you tell the story well, everything else will fit, and that releases everyone else to do their jobs. We watched the films, indeed Warner Bros owns the rights to them. The first film [starring Gene Wilder as Wonka] is the holiday film in the US, it is shown every Christmas, it's an institution and people can quote from it at length. The thing is with this book is that everyone feels ownership of the book. Everyone wants to be Charlie, everyone wants to have the Golden Ticket, everyone wants to see the factory - so yes, there are some significant boots to fill and baggage to carry. But we were determined, very early on, to create our own version and tell our own story, and Sam Mendes has been very supportive all the way through."
Willy Wonka is the best chocolate maker and inventor in the world. He owns a big factory where he creates delicious sweets and chocolates. He is a small man who dresses in a top hat and brightly coloured clothes. He does not trust other people since spies started giving away his secret recipes. He is willing to try anything and refuses to believe other people who say things are impossible. Charlie Bucket comes from a poor family and lives in a wooden house with his parents and grandparents. Charlie is a very small boy with ragged clothes because he is so poor he can't afford to eat very much or buy new clothes. He loves chocolate but only gets one chocolate bar per year for his birthday. He is very close to his grandparents and enjoys listening to their stories. Charlie is very selfless and is always thinking of others. Grandpa Joe is 96-years-old. He hasn't been out of bed for 20 years when Charlie finds a Golden Ticket, but when he hears the news he jumps out of bed to celebrate and accompany Charlie on the tour. He is very tall and thin. Grandpa Joe is a great storyteller but can get a bit overexcited. He loves chocolate as well. Grandpa Joe is a big fan of Willy Wonka and is overjoyed that he gets to visit the factory. Augustus Gloop is the first finder of a Golden Ticket. He is a very greedy young man who has only one habit - eating. As a result he is very fat, but his mother doesn't seem to worry about his health. Augustus is so overexcited about the river of chocolate in Wonka's factory that he starts drinking from it and falls in. Violet Beauregarde finds the third Golden Ticket. She loves chewing gum more than anything but switches to chocolate to help find the ticket. Violet's current record for chewing the same piece of gum is three months. After every night she sticks it on the bedpost and then starts again in the morning. She is very rude about her mother who she thinks nags her, and enjoys sticking her gum on the buttons in the lift so people get it stuck on their fingers. The Oompa-Loompas are small people with long hair who come from a tropical country called Loompaland. In their homeland they had spent their whole lives in the trees, hiding from the terrible creatures on the ground. Their favourite food is cacao beans and they agreed to come and work in Mr Wonka's factory in exchange for as many cacao beans as they could eat. They are very mischievous and like to sing songs all day to entertain themselves.
Please Note: Age Recommendation 7 plus (subject to change). It is the policy of the Theatre Royal Drury Lane that any child under the age of 4 will NOT be admitted into the theatre. All persons entering the theatre, regardless of age, must have a ticket. Roald Dahl's 1964 novel has twice been a hit film. Gene Wilder played factory owner Willy Wonka in 1971 movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and Johnny Depp took the role in Tim Burton's 2005 version Charlie and the Chocolate Factor.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in London at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane previewed from 22 May 2013, opened on 25 June 2013 and closed on 7 January 2017.