Lesson learned. Never judge a book by its cover. The first time I went to the Theatre Royal Drury Lane was to see 42nd Street in 1984, so a distant memory – and the second was Oliver! with Kerry Ellis. We sat in the gods. You get to the top by another doorway outside and gain no perception whatsoever of what the theatre is like. I’m sure it was very good, but I have Upper Circle issues that involve thoughts of sick bags and clinging onto the seat next to me, hence my apathy for going back to this particular theatre. During this visit, I was taken aback by its beauty and we had the perfect view from the Royal Circle. Great start!
With Sam Mendes and his superb creative team, a timeless story and a budget to die for, this was always going to be a winner for the family theatregoer. Musicals based on well-written books seem to transpose to stage very successfully (such as Matilda).
Charlie and The Chocolate Factory is full of all kinds of emotions and is a dazzling production experience. Mark Thompson’s (Mamma Mia, Joseph) set and costume designs were fabulous, they brought the book to life. Peter Darling (choreographer, Matilda, Billy Elliot) has a way of ensuring that you remember the song for the choreography, not for the song, very clever and it works brilliantly.
The first act seemed rather long and dragged a bit, however we got to know the characters well and they emulated the book perfectly. A few thrown-in lines may have been lost on the younger audience, but it raised a giggle or two from the older members. The second act was a technical bonanza. It was mind-blowing, scene after scene when you thought that they couldn’t possibly introduce anymore, out came another magical experience. The production value of this show is off the scale.
My favourite scene was with the elevator. Alex Jennings (Willy Wonka) and Rhys Lambert (Charlie – what a super talent he is) have an endearing connection by the end of the show.
Hannah Howland (Veruca Salt) was fabulous. Her demise in the squirrel scene was one of the highlights and such a good song too.
So in short, if your expectation is sublime vocals and perfect diction, you’re in the wrong place, but if you want your family to have an overall, fantastic rollercoaster of millions of pounds worth of theatre experience, this one is for you!
Review by Nadia Ellerton
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Theatre Royal Drury Lane
Address: Catherine Street, London, WC2B 5JF
Evenings: Monday to Saturday 7.30pm
Matinees: Wednesday and Saturday 2.30pm
Age Restrictions: Recommended for ages 7+ (Under 5′s will not be admitted)
Previews from 22nd May 2013
Opened 25th June 2013