Review: Charlie And The Chocolate Factory Is One For The Kids, Stunning For A Younger Audience

By Shaun Nolan
Sunday 04 October 2015

Roald Dahl books being turned into smash hit West End musicals is slowing becoming the new big thing to do, but what makes Charlie And The Chocolate Factory at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane so different from shows like Matilda: The Musical I hear you ask? It’s that, in all honesty, Charlie is a show that is seemingly aimed at a younger audience.

I saw Charlie And The Chocolate Factory for the first time back in April of this year after resisting going due to hearing that the show really isn’t aimed at my demographic. Nonetheless, my friend Savannah kept telling me how much she loves revisiting the show and my adult cousin said the same thing so I went to see what all the fuss was about. I liked the show a lot and I really loved the production value and some of the score, but I couldn’t help but feel like my Grandma and I were really raising the average age of the show’s demographic in that theatre. After a return visit to the show a few weeks back, I was greeted with a familiar feeling: maybe my younger sister would be able to enjoy this show as a whole, so I decided to put my older brother cap on and assess this show from a parent’s perspective.

The massive scale of this production is what would initially stun a younger audience to silence. For many of the children in that theatre, this is probably the first West End musical they have ever gone to see and you really are getting your ticket money’s worth when it comes to gigantic sets. We have the massive chocolate garden from the factory being recreated on stage as well as a gigantic television where four musical numbers are performed inside, not forgetting the squirrel room in the factory too and many many more impressive sets. That really did impress me from a frequent theatregoers perspective, as did elements of Marc Shaiman and Scott Whitman’s score. They also wrote a lot of music for the hit TV show Smash and the score to the 2003 Broadway and West End hit Hairspray, but this score is slightly different. It’s extremely modern in that we have some dubstep-influence in some of the music in contrast with hip hop in other songs and orchestral music in comparison to that. It really is a musical journey and I truly feel that this is universally enjoyable for all ages too.

As far as the story goes, it’s identical to the story that is told in Tim Burton’s film adaptation of the novel and even features 'Pure Imagination' which was used in the original, musical movie entitled Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Instead of being as dark as the Burton film though, the show’s book is written as being a much more light-hearted, modern and child-friendly story which at times can be a bit wearing as a person who is older than the age of 11 to find real satisfaction with; this is why I think the show is probably aimed at someone who is a little bit younger than I am, but it’s definitely still enjoyable if you’re older.

Have you seen CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane? If you have, tweet us at @Shaunycat and @Theatre_Direct and let us know what you thought! If you haven’t (or if you fancy a repeat trip) then you can get your Charlie And The Chocolate Factory tickets here!


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Shaun Nolan

Shaun grew up listening to the cast recordings of musical theatre treasures like Miss Saigon and Cats before finding his own feet at a young age and exploring a wide breadth of musicals and shows by himself. Now that he's older and wiser, he loves nothing more than taking very regular trips down to London's West End to soak up the pure magic that he loves so much... and then coming home and sharing it with you on his own blog and London Theatre Direct.

Please note: Opinions expressed on the blog are those of the relevant contributors, not of London Theatre Direct Ltd, its owners or staff. London Theatre Direct Ltd is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by contributors.

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