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REVIEW: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory The Musical – Birmingham Hippodrome

REVIEW: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory The Musical – Birmingham Hippodrome

‘A Sweet Sensation’


The captivating world of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has been adapted to the stage into a scrumptious musical adaptation, on a UK tour – currently at the Birmingham Hippodrome. This classic story, featuring a talented cast and creative team, delivered a magical performance suitable for the whole family.

The musical score, composed by Marc Shaiman, perfectly captures the spirit of Roald Dahl’s novel and the feel of the movie adaptations. It was a joy to hear more familiar songs like Pure Imagination and The Candy Man beautifully performed live. Emily Jane Boyle’s choreography breathed life into the musical numbers, igniting the stage with a dynamic display of skill from the ensemble.

Credit: Johan Persson

The cast was exceptional, with most cast members taking on multiple roles effortlessly. The iconic Willy Wonka, played by Gareth Snook, exuded eccentricity and perfectly portrayed the character with a sense of quirkiness – a standout performance. Jessie-Lou Harvie is one of the young actors playing Charlie Bucket in this touring production. Harvie was both endearing and talented, effectively capturing the character’s innocence and sense of wonder. The supporting cast, including the mischievous children and their parents, added depth and humour throughout. Harvie formed a great bond with Michael D’Cruze, the pair developed a heart-warming and humourous chemistry that was a joy to watch.

This production is filled with vibrant colours and intricate set pieces that perfectly adapt iconic moments from the book. It’s worth noting, that if you’re expecting to see Oompa Loompas like they are in the original 1971 movie then you could be disappointed. This production reimagines Wonka’s helpers to be robots more than people – a questionable move.

Credit: Johan Persson

James Brining’s vision for this production is clear and well-executed. Although the musical has a strong focus on preserving the heart of Dahl’s story, this show sadly suffers from a pacing issue. The show starts with an opening number that fails to engage the audience, and parts of the first act seem to drag. This is mainly down to the musical’s book and some lacklustre musical numbers. It’s a slow-burner – only at the beginning of Act 2 do we venture inside Wonka’s factory. The first act takes its time to introduce Charlie and the Bucket factory, along with each lucky golden ticket holder – from Augustus Gloop to Veruca Salt.

There are some fantastic set pieces in places, but then there’s a strong reliance on screens in others. The best numbers in the show are ones from the original film, starring Gene Wilder. The show’s weaknesses can be forgiven though – as adapting this beloved and imaginative story to the stage is no walk in the park. Also, the second act made up for any pacing issues, with wittier dialogue, memorable moments and upbeat numbers that immersed you in the world of Willy Wonka.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory The Musical is a sweet sensation equipped with impressive set pieces and costumes, accompanied by strong performances from the cast. While there were pacing issues in the first act, the overall theatrical experience was a memorable one. A must-see for fans of the book and film adaptations – and families looking to dive into a world of ‘pure imagination’.

Be sure to grab your Golden Tickets to this heartwarming musical currently on tour and at the Birmingham Hippodrome until Sunday 5th November – book here!

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