By Amy Papasergio
I will begin this review by saying that I now have a huge chocolate craving, which still hasn’t diminished days after the show. Perth is extremely lucky to have this rendition of the award-winning West End and Broadway musical, that will similarly leave you with the tooth-tickling, tongue-tastical taste for chocolate. So, if you haven’t yet seen it, I highly recommend buying a ticket whilst it’s at the Crown this November (and of course some box office chocolate to compliment).
Slight warning that I will be comparing the musical to the original story, so some sugary spoilers lie ahead. You will be happy to know that Roald Dahl’s nostalgic narrative remains largely intact: that of a young Charlie Bucket who finds one of the five golden tickets in a Wonka bar, winning a chance to explore the famously elusive titular factory. However, the new production does a great job at modernising the original story, providing a fresh experience for those well-versed in Charlie and Grandpa Joe’s escapades. But fret not, even with these changes you will still experience sweet, sweet nostalgia, with Gene Wilder’s classic one-liners the perfect glazed cherry on top.
The beginning of the narrative is altered to allow Willy Wonka’s character to appear earlier in the musical and meet Charlie Bucket. The four other ticket winners are also heavily stereotyped to suit the grandiosity of the stage performance. Every golden ticket winner and their parent is introduced with a catchy and comedic song alongside their respective vices as per the original story. Later, they expectedly fall victim to these vices in the tour of the chocolate factory. But if you think that – as in the film – they are patched together by the Oompa Loompas, well strike that, reverse it! Let’s just say, it’s a tad more violent an ending this time. Sorry kids.
Accompanied by a live orchestra, the cast delivered an exceptional performance of both new songs and well-loved numbers from the 1971 film including the slow and endearing tune of ‘Pure Imagination’. The music swings from leisurely and dreamlike to so tongue-twistingly fast-paced that one character even proclaims, “this tempo is preposterous!” Recognition must be given to Stephen Anderson, depicting Willy Wonka, and Flynn Nowlan, one of the four Charlie Buckets over the course of the musical’s run, for their incredible chemistry on stage and in song, with Anderson presumably breaking the world record for number of words sung in a minute.
The set design truly transports you into Wonka’s whimsically wacky world, from the small downtown candy shop, and rickety old Bucket shack, to the grand golden gates of the chocolate factory, and Wonka’s colourful garden made entirely of sweets. Lighting, animations, and a variety of screens are utilised tastefully throughout the show. My favourite scene however, was a room with no props or distinct setting, in which the characters must use their pure imagination to escape a room of invisible traps. In a mime-like manner, the actors showcase their excellent acting as they convincingly Indiana Jones their way across precarious marshmallow platforms, past surprisingly strong winds and a variety of other sickly-sweet obstacles.
I highly recommend buying your golden ticket to this golden show. If you have no-one to go with, hit me up – I want to watch it again. Warning, chocolate craving imminent.
4.5 everlasting gobstoppers out of 5.
The show continues at Crown Theatre until the 28th of November.
Image courtesy of Crossroads Live