Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - The Musical

It’s time to take a breath, count to three and fly off into a world of pure imagination as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory takes over the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton stage. 

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a timeless tale that young and old have loved across generations. I remember sitting in my room devouring the book by Roald Dahl, immersing myself in the movies, and now watching it come to life on stage. Each adaptation unique yet quintessentially quirky in its own way. Having missed its original run in the west end several years ago, I was eager to see how this tale of the wild and wonderful chocolate inventor moved onto the stage. 

The story follows Charlie Bucket, a young, hopeful inventor who can make something out of nothing. Living in a shack with their mum and grandparents they make the best of what they have and savour the little luxuries in life; especially chocolate. When the elusive chocolatier Willy Wonka decides to open his gates for 5 lucky children, the hunt is on to find the winning golden tickets. But when the group finally enter the factory, things are not all it seems and the lure of gluttony, greed, and expectations mean that unexpected things happen on their journey through the gates. 

Whilst the cast is predominantly made up of adults, Charlie has a child actor cast each performance. In this production they have thrown away the original text and decided that Charlie is free to be either male or female and I was so pleased to see Harmony Raine-Riley take to the stage in the leading role. She had buckets of stage presence, a voice to rival the remaining adult cast, and definitely won me over from the moment she stepped on stage. 

Stepping into the role of Wonka was Gareth Snook and he completely embodied the weird and wonderful chocolatier. I feel that Wonka is a hard role to fill by Snook did it with ease and completely won me over. I also loved the remaining golden ticket winners, all played by adult cast. They managed to fill the role of cheeky children with ease whilst not making the audience feel that they were adults playing kids. Teddy Hinde was a fantastic Mike Teavee, with the attitude of an ‘I don’t care’ teenager, whilst the want, want, want of Veruca Salt was perfectly portrayed by Emma Robotham-Hunt. 

I have to also mention a couple of brilliant touches to the show that won me over. I loved the way that Leonie Spilsbury incorporated elements of sign language into her role of Mrs Bucket, it was such a wonderful touch to the show. I also loved the Oompa Loompa’s, portrayed in a robot-esque manner in this show and truly added to the other worldliness of the Wonka Factory. 

Whilst some of the original songs from the film have remained such as Candyman and Pure Imagination, I also loved the new songs that weaved throughout the show. They truly helped lead the story and make it magical. Add to that an impressive staging that included magical effects, staggering props, and hilarious touches, it truly made the show come alive in a way that any touring show could. Max loved the projections and visual effects and thought the nut room was pretty hilarious! 

Overall, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a musical that will entertain generations young and old. It’s a show that will bring families together and whisk you away for a few hours into a world of pure imagination. We absolutely loved being in the wonderful world of Wonka and think it’s a show that everyone will enjoy. Just don’t forget to take some chocolate! 

On at the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton until 3rd September 2023 before continuing on a UK tour. For more information and tickets please follow the link: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory tickets

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