Relive your Candy Man fantasies in superb musical Charlie And The Chocolate Factory

See a world of imagination come to life with live orchestration, vivid colour, catchy songs, and top stage performances to recreate Roald Dahl’s playful 1964 children’s classic, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: The New Musical.Relive all your childhood hopes and dreams in this spectacular showcase of all that is marvellous from childhood in this parable about personal strength, integrity, the importance of dreams, the power of imagination, and going along for the journey. Beside these themes you will hear live all those groovy songs such as The Candy Man, Pure Imagination, I’ve Got A Golden Ticket, Oompa Loompa, and The Wondrous Boat Ride. 

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Paul Slade Smith as Willy Wonka with his cast of successful winners.

You will love this sonic tale created by Broadway greats Marc Shaiman, Scott Wittman and David Greig. here directed by Jack O’Brien. Its synopsis of a poor paperboy infatuated with chocolate, it’s creator, and the factory of its production holds elements of Alice in Wonderland( the magical trek) combined with The Wizard Of Oz, with their improbable fantasms, crazy characters, the struggle of good v. evil, led along by a magician figure reminiscent of sci-fi creation, Dr WhoDecadently regress to delectable kiddie memories filled with Wonka Scrumdiddlyumptious bars, Everlasting Gobstoppers, candy-filled fantasies such as a chocolate river, fudge and fizzy drinks rooms, lickable wallpaper, three course meal bubble gum, and Wonkavision, a screen which teleports chocolate bars and shrinks people. Today’s cuisine will never seem as good. This production vividly brings this world to life for you on stage. 

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Lenny Thomas as Charlie Bucket with Tony Sheldon as Grandpa Joe.

There are theatre stars galore in this production with recent Helpmann award winner and Australian theatre royalty, Tony Sheldon, playing Charlie’s Grandpa Joe, American Paul Slade Smith as Wonka, and WAAPA’s lovely Lucy Maunder as Mrs. Bucket. Toned and taut Madison McKoy is an electric standout as Mr. Beauregard matched by Lee Hanekom’s outstanding vocal gymnastics as his precocious daughter Violet Beauregard. You will laugh a lot if you are a teacher or have a teen at Harrison Riley as tv/digital hipster Mike Teavee with his suppressed suburban mum who dresses as if it’s still the 1950s. When he disappears, breakdancing, into a Super Mario video game you will chuckle over natural justice.

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Jake Fehily as German glutton, August Gloop with Octavia Barron Martin as his mother.

Let’s not forget all the kooky characters Dahl dreamed up, technicolour-evoked in the 1971 film adaptation featuring iconic Gene Wilder as the mercurial Master, followed by Johnny Depp in the 2006 modern film reworking. This version goes to town on the creative visioning and Mark Thompson’s costumes and sets are larger-than-life memorable. Subtlety is not scored, with contemporary digital projections cleverly weaving in modern digital games culture and techno-art. Jake Fehily loves every minute he gets to play Augustus Gloop the German glutton in hilariously over-sized jumper and shorts, and Octavia Barron Martin thrills to the role as his over-doting mother. Their chest pumps stay in your mind. Karin Russell is marvellously precocious in her pink tutu skirt, ballet pointes and repetitive grand battements and jetes as spoilt British Princess Veruca Salt with her nut oligarch father,  reworked here as Crazy Rich Russians. There’s also gum-chewing Violet Beauregarde; and the television-obsessed, Mike Teevee, from country America; but who could not forget the Wonka factory staff, his Oompa-Loompas.

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Harrison Riley as Mike Teavee with Jayde Westaby as his mother, Mrs.Teevee

Basil Twist’s unique puppetry design is hilariously miraculous with the cast chorus executing a standout job bringing these eerie animations into form. An audible gasp sprung from our mouths as they appeared after interval. Another unforgettable moment  from this rich production was of snotty Salt’s demise, inside the garbage chute overrun with giant black furry rats who dance a nastier version of the Mouse King scene from The Nutcracker ballet. Joshua Bergasse’s choreography here was excellent, with not an inappropriate arabesque out of place and the effects are hilariously brutal. These are some of the unique images in this version which will imprint on your mind and bring to 3D life crazy imaginings. The giant hazelnuts in front of the furnace add a touch of smart creativity to this darkly absurdist scene. 

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Karina Russell as Veruca Salt with Stephen Anderson as Father.

You will fall in love with the Charlies, five of Australia’s most talented boy child performers who bring this ever-hopeful ingenue to life on stage. 12 year old Melbourne talent Lenny Thomas created him for us on opening night, bringing tears to my eyes so evocative was his tap-happy, optimistic rendering. This classic musical is also about the powerful effect of theatre – music, song, drama, dance and make believe- to inspire and lead us to fulfil our dreams. To welcome such a talented youth into the magical stage journey via this vehicle was deeply moving to the audience, giving him a standing ovation. 

Fictional Charlie lucked out when he found his golden ticket inside a chocolate wrapper. Your golden ticket comes in your hand when you book to see this spectacular, unforgettable stage version that will have you singing in the aisles and laughing at the madcapery. 

This show is the best antidote for our troubled times going, child or adult alike.

– Sarah Wallace

is the Theatre Specialist for The Plus Ones, Melbourne.  A performing arts and English literature graduate of VCA, UOM and Deakin, she has a flair for bold, non-traditional performance platforms. An active contributor to The Melbourne Shakespeare Society, on the street, or in the box seat, she is always looking for quality works that push the envelope.

Charlie And The Chocolate Factory shows 14 August- 1 November 2019, 7.30pm Wednesday- Saturday, 1pm Wednesday,2pm Saturday, 1/6pm Sunday (150 mins with interval) at Her Majesty’s Theatre. Buy tickets here.

Venues are accessible – ph.13 28 49 

Disclosure: The Plus Ones were guests of Lucky Star Media. 

Images: Jeff Busby, Heidi Victoria, Brian Geach.