By: Rosie Sharman-Ward, TRP Reviewer
This dazzling, delicious venture into the world of Roald Dahl is quite simply brilliant. Bubbling with bright ideas and innovations, the story still closely follows the much loved children’s book complete with all the familiar brats, slightly bonkers Wonka and lovable Grandpa Joe (Michael D’Cruze). The funny and endearing bedridden Bucket family are cleverly ensconced in their hovel. The contrast between their hardship and the garish TV reports of frankly vile children winning Golden tickets by fair means or foul is wonderful. Charlie (played by Amelia Minto) is delightful, with a cracking singing voice and swiftly engages the audience in the story. Joy of joys there is also a live orchestra!
The child in me revels in the ingenuity of the ever changing set (Simon Higlett). With wonderful video trickery and projections (Simon Wainwright) that are thrilling and unexpected. The combination of these two elements produce a truly magical world for the characters to inhabit. Higlett also designed the costumes, the revamped Oompa Loompas are a triumph, suitably sinister and strange. I am so happy they kept the Oompa Loompa song; it just wouldn’t be the same without it!
Gareth Snook’s Wonka captures the mix of weird, lovable, slightly scary with a hint of pathos with panache. He uses his powerful voice to great effect, able to dial it down or raise the roof as necessary. The final tender duet with Charlie may well elicit the odd tear. His Wonka is up there just a small step behind the immortal Gene Wilder, high praise from me. We watch in happy anticipation as each ghastly child meets the sticky end they so deserve and hear Wonka reassure the equally ghastly parents with, “Oh they’ll be fine, probably…”
The hardworking cast, most playing multiple roles, keep the energy flowing throughout, dancing and singing their way through the characters and lightning fast costume changes without missing a beat. The warm and loving Mrs Bucket (Leonie Spinks) becomes Mrs Teavee, driven to “medicine” by offspring Mike (Teddy Hinde). Decrepit Grandpa George (Christopher Howell) strides around as Mr Salt, who accidently seems to resemble an ex POTUS, trying to appease his daughter Veruca (Emma Robottom-Hunt) The two Grannies also have alter egos as Mrs Gloop (Katie Milner-Evans) mother to the sausage wielding Augustus (Robin Simões Da Silva) and trendy Mrs Beauregarde (Emily Winter) cheerleading her gum chewing daughter Violet (Marisha Morgan)
The whole show is a chocolate box of delights only without the coffee cream no one likes. Lively and enchanting with a dash of magic it appeals to everyone over 7. It brings laughter and joy to those fortunate enough to have a golden ticket.
Directed by James Brining with Music by Marc Shaiman and Lyrics by Scott Whitman And Marc Shaiman, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a Leeds Playhouse Production.
Cast: Mrs Pratchett – Victoria Nicol, Jerry – Ewan Giles, Cherry – Lucy Hutchinson Ensemble: Patrick King, Katherine Picar, Jodie Knight, Jonathon McDonald, Lewis Rae, Ty-Reece Stewart. Swings: Lydia Bradd, Natasha Volley, Darcie Brown, Morgan Scott.