Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is my favourite Roald Dahl book! The rags to riches story of Charlie Bucket visiting Willy Wonka and his magical chocolate factory has captured the imagination of sweets-loving children around the world for over 50 years. The two films have also enjoyed popular acclaim.
Now the crazy imaginings of Roald Dahl are brought to life on stage in a musical adaptation. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory played in London’s West End and Broadway and the Capitol Theatre in Haymarket Sydney is its first stop in Australia. We made a special trip up to Sydney just to see it!
The musical features songs from the original 1971 Gene Wilder film, including Pure Imagination, The Candy Man, I’ve Got a Golden Ticket and the song of the Oompa Loompas. All of the other songs are original and to be honest I don’t particularly remember the songs from the new score.
The show is long (2 hours 30 minutes) so steel yourself for a pretty slow first half. First, it sets the scene for Charlie Bucket’s loving family members and poverty and Charlie’s first meeting with Willy Wonka.
Then it introduces the other characters (and their parents) who find the Golden Ticket. As per the book, Veruca Salt, Violet Beauregard, Augustus Gloop and Mike Teevee are each odorous in a different way but the cultural stereotypes slapped on top the book’s descriptions are a bit irksome. Curiously, they are all played by adults – only Charlie Bucket is played by a child.
It’s only once the second half starts with everyone entering the chocolate factory that the fun really starts to begin. The kids are knocked off one by one and the stage design and special effects are fun, clever and memorable – particularly when Mike Teevee disappears and reappears in miniature form inside the TV.
I laugh with surprise and delight as the Oompa Loompas arrive and for me, the clever rendition of these miniature workers (I won’t spoil how they are done) is the highlight of the show. Paul Slade Smith as Willy Wonka is the standout talent – he’s wacky, witty, dismissive and empathetic all at once.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is great fun for the young and young at heart. I recommend it for children age 6+ years so that they have the stamina for the long performance. It’s not interactive so there are no opportunities to talk, fidget or stretch legs until the interval.
Click here for my tips on the best things to do in Sydney with kids
Click here for my review of Sugar Republic which features a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory room!
- Suitable for 6+ years as the show is 2 hours 30 minutes long;
- We sit in Row W 1-3 in the stalls and have good views;
- Cloak large bags and backpacks;
- At the cloakroom ask for a seat cushion for younger children;
- Snacks include some wild Charlie and the Chocolate Factory show bag sweets, weirdly colourful slushies and the standard chocolate/chips/choc tops. To save money BYO treats!
- There are photo opportunities with a photo wall and Willy Wonka’s car parked out the front.
- Best to arrive via public transport (train, bus or light rail) as parking is difficult and expensive.