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Children's shows - reviews

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

V at the famous Theatre Royal, Drury Lane

V at the famous Theatre Royal, Drury Lane

Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London
23 July 2014, 2.30pm

Taking your child to their first big West End production is always a landmark moment, the fact that show was also their favourite children’s book just made it even more special.

Roald Dahl’s classic “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” has been successfully translated to the stage with the love and care we all hoped and prayed for.

It tells the tale of Charlie Bucket and his family, who are living well below the breadline, trying to make ends meet, when the possibility of getting a golden ticket to the local chocolate factory takes over their lives.

The majority of the first half takes place in the Bucket’s house as we get to know Charlie and his family. This is where it really surpasses all previous versions of this story as you get to know these characters through cracking dialogue and song.

Then as the golden tickets start to be found a giant TV appears and the rest has to be seen to be believed. I daren’t spoil the fun! It’s safe to say by the end of the first half Willy Wonka opens his factory doors, played with devilish relish by Alex Jennings, and the mayhem is about to ensue.

Lots of fun

Now, we’re an hour in at that point and my-four-year old was completely invested and couldn’t wait for the second half. That shows how good it is.

Circle seats - a great view!

Circle seats – a great view!

Just before we enter the chocolate factory Willy Wonka rises out of the orchestra pit waving a baton. This is the tone of the rest of the show –  lots and lots of fun! What follows as each golden ticket winner gets dispatched is the best hour of musical theatre in the West End.

Special mention needs to go to the Oompa Loompas who are without question the definitive version of them ever presented on stage and screen.

These singing, tap dancing, roller discoing, squirrel riding little people really use every trick in the book to entertain the crowd. I almost want an Oompa Loompa spin off musical:)

You may be able to tell I want to keep the spoilers to a minimum but what is great is the whole story has been updated with such care and ingenuity by Sam Mendes and David Greig.

All the updates feel natural and just improve the story so by the end you feel they’ve delivered the perfect musical. The songs from the writers of Hairspray are funny, catchy and really enhance the characters whilst moving the story along.

In short, this is the the sweetest two hours of musical theatre currently in the West End and simply the best way to spend time in London with your kids. Just come with me and you will be in a world of pure imagination!

V’s verdict

“The glass elevator was awesome. It went over the audience!”
“I loved the glitterball and the pipe bit.”
“I loved the squirrels but the dad didn’t go in with Veruca when we watched the film.”

Run time: 2 hours 30 minute including a 20 minute interval

Age range: The recommended lower limit is age 7 but 4-year-old V was fine. The content was OK for that age so whether or not you take an under 7 depends  on their ability to sit and watch a show for that period of time.

Other stuff: We bought a golden ticket keying for £7 and got a standard programme and souvenir programme – total £16.

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