West End show review: Charlie and the Chocolate factory

Over the years I have seen lots of West End shows and I have never been disappointed but I have also never been overwhelmed so far. Well, until now. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory definitely wowed both myself and my 7 year old son!! What an amazing show that is.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

It’s not just the incredible special effects that have the WOW factor, but it’s also the music and the quality of the storytelling. We all loved the Jonny Depp movie version from Roald Dahl’s classic story, but this musical show is simply spectacular and brings to life all those characters we love from the book in a way that no other film or show has ever done before.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

I almost did not want to believe when I heard how good the show was, because people tend to exaggerate and talk with lots of superlatives about their experiences to find myself using lots of superlatives to describe this show.

What really impressed us, was the wide use of modern technology to tell a well known story that everybody loves for different reasons. It is a risky approach because it is very difficult to please so many audiences when telling a classic story that everyone imagines in his particular way. So the balance of technology used for special effects and live music is just perfect in this show and would not disappoint in any way. In fact it enhances the story and its colourful characters.

The trailer on You Tube does not give justice to the beauty of the colourful backdrops and the choreography of the show. It has to be seen in the theatre. But here is a mild taster of what it is:

Charlie and The Chocolate Factory Opening night, at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane - London

No wonder the show is so well produced. The director is no less than Sam Mendes, best known for directing American Beauty (1999), which earned him the Academy and Golden Globe Award for Best Director, the crime film Road to Perdition (2002), and the James Bond movie Skyfall (2012). But he is also known for dark re-inventions of the stage musicals Cabaret (1994), Oliver! (1994), Company (1996), and Gypsy (2003).

For school children it is the perfect stage musical to see after reading Roald Dahl’s book of course. Once the kids know the characters well, they appreciate the show even more as they are not focused on the story ending and they can enjoy the way the story is brought to life in an original way.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Nor surprisingly a few weeks ago Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory broke the West End record for the highest reported weekly gross sales:
Over the course of the nine show week almost 20,000 people saw the musical at Theatre Royal Drury Lane achieving a record value of £1,062,606.

Olivier and Tony Award®-winning actor Douglas Hodge plays Willy Wonka alongside Nigel Planer as Grandpa Joe, Clive Carter as Mr Salt, Jasna Ivir as Mrs Gloop, Paul J Medford as Mr Beauregarde, Iris Roberts as Mrs Teavee, Billy Boyle as Grandpa George, Alex Clatworthy as Mrs Bucket, Roni Page as Grandma Josephine, Myra Sands as Grandma Georgina and Jack Shalloo as Mr Bucket.


Featuring ingenious stagecraft, the wonder of the original story that has captivated the world for almost 50 years is brought to life with music by Marc Shaiman, and lyrics by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman, a book by award-winning playwright and adaptor David Greig, set and costume designs by Mark Thompson and choreography by Peter Darling.

The show’s website is

and the Box Office number is 0844 858 8877. The show is at the magnificent Theatre Royal Drury Lane (London, WC2B 5JF) at the heart of the West End.

Last but not least watching the show made us want to eat lots of chocolate 🙂
Luckily lots of Wonka branded bars were at hand – we loved the Millionaires’ shortbread type in particular!

Go and watch the show live, it’s totally worth it!

Images Credits: Helen Maybanks, David Jensen

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