Jonathan Slinger as Willy Wonka in 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory'
Jonathan Slinger and cast in 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory'
Charlie (Oliver Finnegan) and the Bucket family in 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory'.
Charlie (Jake Poolman) and the Bucket family in 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory'.
Charlie (Jake Poolman) and the Bucket family in 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory'.
Sam Mendes's Roald Dahl adaptation is a sweet night out
A luminous roller-coaster ride of colour, spectacle and fantastical happenings, Sam Mendes’s stage version of Roald Dahl’s adored children’s book is still as entertaining as ever, two years and a couple of casts down the line. And though a lot of that comes down to the show’s garishly-hued stage tricks, it’s also due to the main attraction. In David Greig’s adaptation that’s not the eponymous Charlie Bucket, but eccentric factory owner Mr Willy Wonka.
Following in the footsteps of the cuddlier Douglas Hodge, RSC stalwart Jonathan Slinger is now the third Wonka. He has a superb subversive touch that I’d wager Dahl would heartily approve of. He spits and roars, huffs and growls his way through Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman’s bland songs (only ‘Pure Imagination’, lifted from the 1971 film, really makes an impact). There’s something enchanting and also a little scary about Slinger as he channels everyone from a toned-down Tim Curry in ‘Rocky Horror’ to croaky crooner Tom Waits. His cheshire cat smile is both welcoming and disconcerting and it’s not until the very end that either you or Charlie can be entirely sure you can trust him. Which for this particular character, is pretty perfect.
In Greig’s taut, naughtily funny script, Wonka doesn’t properly arrive until just before the second half, which means the early scenes, set in the slum home of the Buckets feel a little drawn out. The plot is all set up thoroughly, though, and designer Mark Thompson’s clever way of introducing all the golden ticket winners via a huge TV at the back of the stage brings some much needed vibrancy.
The second half is an absolute riot of colour and ingenious staging, as Wonka leads us through a series of set pieces in the weird rooms of the chocolate factory where, one by one, the naughty children are disposed of. Pretty much all the sets are a scrumptious treat – from a nut-sorting room populated by squirrels to the inventing room complete with emotionally unstable robots. The sets are brought to life by the army of little oompa loompas, whose numbers, choreographed with natty innovation by Peter Darling, are hilariously kooky.
Though the show suffers from a gaping hole in the back story of the strange Wonka, Slinger, despite his more edgy idiosyncrasies, does bring a real sense of humanity to the character. He’s a man clearly moved by Charlie’s politeness, thoughtfulness and caring, which makes the final bond between the two a little more believable than perhaps it was with Hodge. Here’s a Willy Wonka whose hidden heart is as soft and as a fluffy as a marshmallow pillow.
|Venue name:||Theatre Royal Drury Lane||Contact:|
|Transport:||Tube: Covent Gdn|
|Price:||£25-£90. Runs 2hrs 30mins|
Average User Rating
4 / 5
- 5 star:29
- 4 star:19
- 3 star:10
- 2 star:5
- 1 star:3
Excellent Musical! All kids perform very well! We had nothing to do one night so on am impulse we purchased two last minute balcony tickets online two hrs before the show. When we collected our tickets at the theatre, they put us into the stall 5th row. A very good deal and I enjoyed the night very much. PS: Kids!! They do have a lot of Willy Wonka chocolate and sweets, and ice-cream selling inside the theatre, so don’t eat anything before you go!
Visited April 2015
I have seen a fair few musicals and was extremely excited at the prospect of going to see one of my favourite childhood films on the big stage,however I was feeling a tad deflate Once I was out of the theatre I felt very uncomfortable in places an felt the focus on how poor the buckets were was overwhelming I almost felt like I was watching a bbc children in need appeal I didn't enjoy the songs as I felt they lacked punch , with the noticeable absence of the hugely recognisable Oompa Loompa song and golden ticket it didn't give me the feel good feeling that I was expecting. That being said our Charlie was fantastic for a 9 year old boy he held the stage and made Charlie his. Also hats off to the set designers as the set and effects were amazing.
Good performances, great sets but lacks the songs you want from the film and the songs written for it an weak and forgettable. A musical with poor music is rather a waste of stage. Go see Matlida instead.
Wonderful wonderful production! I went in with no expectations whatsoever, but t I wasn't prepared for what the stella staging, wonderful acting and incredible special effects. It's true that there weren't many songs from the original movie, but I think that the fact that the production was so amazing despite that, is testament to what a great job they did, Probably one of the better musicals I have seen,
We had a brilliant night out as part of our trip to London. My boyfriend isn't too keen on theatre shows but even he loved it. I would definitely recommend for all ages. It was such a great night.
Amazing sets, great costumes. A lot of fun. Shame they did not have more of the original songs.
First scene a bit drawn out. Children and oompahs superb. Loved it when I recognised a song.
New songs ok but not memorable. Charlie was very very good. 14 Jan pm.
Worth going to see and lovely to watch.
I went there with my boyfriend not really knowing what to expect. As there were a lot of kids in the audience we thought we might be disappointed. In fact, it was an amazing performance: great actors (both kids and adults), creative adaptations, mind-blowing sets, beautiful music, memorable energy. We recommended this musical to everyone!
This was an enjoyable play however it doesn't deserve the great reviews it currently gets IMHO. Firstly, the theatre and set are amazing. Unfortunately our showing experienced some technical difficulties resulting in a 15 Min delay. Yet this doesn't retrack from its brilliant design and seemless transition between parts. In addition, the costume design was great and meticulous attention to detail was apparent.
The problems arise with casting, choreography and twisted versions of songs. Willy wonka is not as mystical or engaging as he should be and the oompas, ahh not sure where to start. One postive, the children are fantastic and really give it there all. The choreography is alike a junior school play and finally the songs are mostly forgettable...
I had hoped for more and to come away whistling some of those great child hood tunes but this was far from inspiring or memorable.
When last year when all the school kids was there didn't enjoy myself it was so noisy at that time when I when there
absolutely loved this show! the production was amazing and they really brought it to life on stage! Also lots of chocolate to buy in the foyer which was great!
Very fun show, brought back many childhood memories, all of the actors performances was good and found the price reasonable for the seats in the grand circle. The added Willy Wonka bars being sold was a great addition to the overall experience. This show is a must to see!!
Great family entertainment; some of the stage effects are particularly impressive. In hindsight i'd have booked the matinee as it ran quite late for my 10 year old daughter on a school night.
Took 6 very excited children who were enthralled and amazed.
Beautiful theatre with lovely architecture which certainly added to the tone of the evening, although a little more leg room would have been appreciated.
All the actors were amazing and great hospitality too.
Great evening - highly recommended.
Amazing musical that combines great acting with beautiful audio-visual effects. The production was fantastic, the band top-notch. The theatre is also very beautiful (oldest working play house in the world). As the show was not fully booked, just before the show a nice gentlemen offer my husband and I to be upgraded for a better seat. We asked for a seat with more leg-space (my husband is really tall). We were taken to one of the boxes on the theatre. That was so nice!
Really great show, the set is what really gave it the wow factor. The child actors were amazing too and the whole thing was enjoyable for kids and adults.
I actually rather liked the songs, though Pure Imagination is clearly heads above the rest. But I've been singing Must Be Believed To Be Seen all week. The child stars are fantastic, and the lyrics/conversation are very funny. And the touches of magic are absolutely perfect. I love that the fate of the children is also not sugar coated (unlike the films, when they are miraculously ok). I like a darker, slightly on edge Wonka. Much more Dahl.
This show was fantastic. The perfomers were so professional the singing was amazing and the stage effects were brilliant. A must to to see show.
Such a great show! The set was absolutely amazing and the children's performances were brilliant too. The whole show was very entertaining and I would recommend for children and adults.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was amazing one of the best new musicals I have seen for a while. The sets and costumes were awesome. Some fantastic performances from the children that really made me laugh. The sighs were catchy - me and my nephew have been humming them to ourselves ever since. It defiantly has all the elements you are looking for when comparing the film without being an exact copy.
Simply awesome, fantastically surprising, at any levels : actors' performs, stage, musicians and scenario ! We had smiled all the night, even after the music hall, and I recommend it to everyone, from children to elderly people ! Enjoy !
A dark scrumdiddlyumptious delight. From beginning to end the show deliverer end at every turn. Whilst the songs are instantly forgettable, the sets certainly weren't. Much praised has been heaped on them and the technology used and rightly so. The cast were note perfect and I really hadn't expected to laugh quite as much as I diid. The ending is magical. Children will be enthral led by it all,. It really is an experience you shouldn't miss.
This is a truly amazing musical! The music is fun and the vocals are flawless, the decors are mindblowing and the special effects are true jaw-droppers! This is a musical that you have to see, whether you are an adult or a child. I had a great time!
i was on the 26th dec. the design was the best thing in the show. great story but in this musical all was slowly and unhappy'. not good songs and no develop in stag/. poor charliy
I went to London on the 20th Dec to see Charlie and the chocolate factory. My honest opinion was the staging was amazing but there was only 1 original song. I missed the original songs!! Charlie had a paper round in the original, he didn't work on a dump. We did spot Sarah Cox their, I wonder what her thoughts were. I would give it 7/10
"Choc full of fun!" was the claim on the posters and I certainly felt like a big kid right from the moment I entered the theatre. Having watched a recent C4 documentary on the show, myself and another self confessed 'techy' (though he actually knows what he's talking about...) just had to go and check this show out, so much show that we even purchased restricted view tickets. I have loved this book/film/concept ever since I was little and the musical certainly did not disappoint. Whilst some of the classic moments in the film don't quite live up to the original, the clever twists, fantasmagorical use of tech and talented cast succeed in absorbing you into the chocolate filed world of magic and song. I don't suspect that this show will be up there amongst the great classics of the musical world, but if you have kids, or just want a trip down memory lane then a visit to Drury Lane is definitely worth it. I challenge you to count the ways in which they fool you into thinking that the oompalumpas are real sized - it must be believed to be seen!
This is going to sound really cheesy - this show was magical. The great glass elevator was a splendid spectacular showpiece. Tiny-weeny Charlie Bucket was astonishing; he looked so vulnerable yet performed like a pro. Better than the film with the stupid golden goose - we need squirrels to get rid of the bad nuts. They were magnificent squirrels. Loved it, loved it, loved it.
This show must definitely must be seen to be believed how good it actually is.. The show has everything, amazing songs, and the set is mind blowing.. I really want to see it again, and hopefully will in the coming months.. Another hit like Matilda!!!!
One of the best recent musicals i have seen. Amazing talented young artisits. All the effects were incredible and well put together. I had to go and buy some chocolate In the interval because of the effect it had on me!!! Would definetely reccomend it, especially if you want to take your family on a delicious adventure.