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BWW Review: CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY at Crown Theatre

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Classic children's tale takes audience to a world of pure imagination

BWW Review: CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY at Crown Theatre

Roald Dahl's classic children's story CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY has found its way to the stage as a musical, retaining some elements from the classic movies whilst diverging in some areas. Crown Theatre plays home to this stunning musical, treating the people of Perth to a world of pure imagination.

The musical does differ from the classic Gene Wilder, however there are some elements that anyone only familiar with the movie will recognize. Songs such as 'The Candy Man', 'Pure Imagination,' and 'I've Got A Golden Ticket,' are still there, however there are many new songs to give this show a distinct flavour. Marc Shaimann and Scott Wittman wrote the new songs, with numbers such as 'If Your Father Were Here' and 'The View From Here' adding depth to the musical. Further, there is enough difference in the plot that one is best off approaching the musical as its own rendition of the book.

In the main role of Willy Wonka is Stephen Anderson, who was a part of the original touring cast as Mr Salt. In his first leading role, Anderson plays the eccentric Wonka wonderfully. In the first act, Wonka is a jaded former market leader, desperate to find a way to bring his company back to where it used to be. His dealings with Charlie throughout the first act contribute more to Charlie's story than to Wonka's, with Charlie judged entirely by how much money he has. Anderson performs the classic 'The Candy Man' song brilliantly, but very much comes into his own in the second act where his colourful and humourous portrayal of the famous character make the audience laugh whilst ensuring the meaning of the show still hits.

As Mrs Bucket is Lucy Maunder, a role for which she was nominated for a Helpmann Award in 2019. Maunder conveys the struggles of getting by with not much money whilst her love and devotion of her family is truly heartwarming. Read more about Lucy Maunder and Stephen Anderson's characters and thoughts on the show in my interview with them..

The title role of Charlie is shared by four amazingly talented young men- Charlie Dunn, Cooper Matthews, Phineaus Knickerbocker, and Flynn Nowlan. Nowlan was in the role in the show I saw, winning the crowd over with a sweet portrayal of the hopeful Charlie, on top of impressive and confident singing and dancing. Grandpa Joe- the subject of various memes decrying his ability to recover from 20 years of being bedridden to dance- is played by Robert Grubb. No doubt Grubb has as many stories to tell from his life as Grandpa Joe does, and Grubb perfectly complemented Charlie's dream-big attitude.

The cast of golden ticket winners and their parents were equally impressive. Gluton Augustus Gloop is played by Jaxon Graham Wilson, the bratty and demanding Veruca Salt is played by Karina Russell, self-important Violet Beauregard is played by Tarisai Vushe, and the energetic Mike Teavee is played by Taylor Scanlan. All played their parts perfectly, giving the audience something to laugh at whilst ensuring no one was upset by their respective self-inflicted demises. Octavia Barron Martin (Mrs. Gloop), Simon Russell (Mr Salt), Madison McKoy (Mr Beauregard) and Johanna Allen (Mrs Teavee) complemented their children perfectly in their roles as hapless but loving parents.

BWW Review: CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY at Crown Theatre

CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY won Laurence Olivier awards in 2017 for costumes and lighting, and as much as the performers in the show are outstanding, it is almost worth seeing just to marvel at the staging, costumes, and lighting. Charlie's street- the drab setting for most of the first act- is centred around Wonka's imposing factory, the façade of which is industrial and grey. Upon entering in the second act, however, the colours and lights explode off the stage in an eye-catching display that truly harks to a world of pure imagination that is sure to delight young and old. Similarly, the Oompa-Loompas (themselves Drama Desk award winners) had the audience in stitches and truly need to be seen to be believed.

BWW Review: CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY at Crown Theatre
The colourful staging is just one highlight of the show.

There is a lot for everyone to appreciate in this classic tale retold with excellent performers and a scrumdiddlyumptious treat for the senses.

CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY is at Crown Theatre through November 28, including matinees on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Tickets and more information from Crown Perth.


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From This Author David Bravos