The Factory is open! No golden ticket necessary.

Roald Dahl’s bestselling children’s book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has been around for as long as chocolate, at least that’s how it feels.

First published in 1964 and seen through as many adaptations as perhaps decades, including the cult 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory starring Gene Wilder and the 2005 Tim Burton film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory which stars Johnny Depp.

Every Roald Dahl fan will know, that he doesn’t pull punches when it comes to writing for children and it makes for engrossing but equally gross books that tread between reality and the make-believe in giant snot covered boots. Awesome!

The unique touch of Dahl and his somewhat terrifying ways were cemented for me as a child with the Wilder film and ‘that’ boat scene. And don’t get me started on Anjelica Huston in -every- single scene in the film The Witches, another Roald Dahl book-made-film that is a total cult flick for all ages (unless you’re actually a child, then don’t watch as it is truly horrifying 😂!).

But fast forward to 2023 and we have Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – The Musical! This production is currently on a UK Tour and has opened for a *nearly* month long stay at Milton Keynes Theatre. Sweet.

Last night Half Pint and I were lucky enough to be invited along to the press night performance, so whatdowethink?

The stage musical is based on the Dahl book and the Warner Bros film (the Depp one), meaning eagle eye fans of Wonka will instantly know the differences, although there’s new songs and some new character designs (found after browsing my way through google images).

Gonna drop it in quickly here to say I haven’t seen the Warner Bros – Depp version before, so I did have a few nutty surprises last night.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – The Musical is a bright, multi-dimensional extravaganza which is a delight to watch.

Half Pint absolutely loved the show. At the age of 8 and a half, I think we are entering the perfect age for Roald Dahl stories, understanding the deeper layers (and quite frankly enjoy the brutal bam of Dahl), and I think that covers last nights production age suitability too.

It’s full of bams but perhaps even a younger audience could get on board with this production as it didn’t maim or terrify too much. Which for a mum taking their kid out late of an evening and before an imminent bedtime, I am thankful.

What is vivid though, is how the story of Charlie and the Chocolate factory is bought to life with wonderful digital effects, lighting and wonderfully touching performances that makes it great fun to watch. Coz, come on? You know they can’t be running real rivers of chocolate across a theatre stage, surely?!

As Charlie Bucket is played by a younger cast member there is not just one Charlie Bucket on tour but a selection box of four. Last night we had the pleasure of seeing Noah Walton in the titular role and how wonderful he was! Such a brilliant performance.

Joining Charlie Bucket are the four other golden ticket winning children – Robin Simões Da Silva as Augustus Gloop, Kazmin Border as Veruca Salt, Marisha Morgan as Violet Beauregarde and Teddy Hinde as Mike Teavee.

All of the golden ticket winners are larger than life and are so fun to watch.

The cherry on the show was definitely Leonie Spilsbury as Charlie Bucket’s mum who steals beautiful moments of the show, as the grounded ‘real’ lovable hardworking mum (perhaps the only realistic character in the whole story isn’t she?!). Leonie Spilsbury plays her perfectly. She’s lovable and the love only grows when you see her and Charlie use sign language alongside their lines to each other. To see sign language and to start a conversation around accessibility in theatre and the arts from seeing this on stage – just, brilliant.

This is the first time the candy man can and has gone out on a UK tour so you could say after decades of nobody going in and nobody ever coming out, the factory is well and truly open for all and you should get in whilst you can!

And after you’ve seen Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at Milton Keynes Theatre, if you still want more, there’s more on the way. A new film Wonka starring Timothée Chalamet is due to be released at the end of 2023. Proving once again that the delicious creations from Willy Wonka and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory are as everlasting as that gobstopper.

Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – The Musical is at Milton Keynes Theatre Thursday 9 February – Sunday 5 March 2023

Tickets were kindly gifted by Milton Keynes Theatre but they have zero control over what I post, or say about the performance – that’s all me! Thank you for your support. 🖤

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