The Oompa Loompa song from the 1971 version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory runs on repeat on Youtube in our house.
Our two boys, aged five and eight-years-old, are massive Roald Dahl fans, so when we heard Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the musical was coming to the Capitol Theatre in Sydney we knew we had to see it.
Tickets start at $59.90 each, so it’s not cheap, particularly if you’re driving in from Newcastle or Tamworth and need to stay overnight. The trip could end up costing up to $1,000 dollars.
So this guide is for all those parents out there with children who love Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but who aren’t entirely sure if it’s worth the investment.
What is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?
You know the book and the movie – right? Well the book was turned into a musical production, which is only playing in Sydney.
The Sydney adaptation was produced by John Frost, Craig Donnell, Warner Bros Theatre Ventures, Langley Park Productions and Neal Street Productions with guidance from the original Broadway creative team including director Jack O’Brien and choreographer Joshua Bergasse.
Is it just like the movie?
Kinda, but not really.
The musical follows the story fairly closely. It has a simple stage set up and some fantastic expressive acting from Paul Slade Smith as Willy Wonka, Tony Sheldon as Grandpa Joe and Ryan Yeates, who played Charlie Bucket on opening night.
At times you have to call upon what you already know about the story to fill the gaps but it’s a solid re-enactment of the Roald Dahl classic.
Songs from the original include ‘Pure Imagination’, ‘The Candy Man and ‘I’ve got a Golden Ticket’, but if you’re hoping to hear the Oompa Loompa’s sing the classics from 1971 then you’ll be disappointed.
But the Oompa Loompas are in it?
Absolutely, and they arguably were the most entertaining part of the entire two hour show. Certainly they raised the biggest cheer on opening night.
They look a bit different to the films, but some brilliant puppetry and facial expressions, they were hilarious, cute and darkly evil.
You say evil? Is this going to be suitable for little ones?
The show generally is good fun, with lots of laughs. Particularly from Jake Fehily, who played Augustus Gloop and Octavia Barron Martin, who played Mrs Gloop, who were the pantomime king and queen of the show.
Willy Wonka warmed up as the show entered the Second Act and there was plenty of humour for the parents. I should say here that my husband and I didn’t review the show with the boys. So I’m making assumptions here, but I think a lot would have gone over their heads.
This show is certainly darker than the 1971 movie. Neither of my boys would be frightened - there were no shocks or scary monsters, but I’d be hesitant about taking under fives.
So, it’s not for under fives?
Well, it depends on their ability to sit for long periods of time. The show really entered it’s stride in the Second Act, particularly when the curtain rises on the song ‘Pure Imagination’ to reveal the chocolate waterfall.
But to be honest before that point it was a bit of a slog. I think my eight-year-old could work his way through some of the less dynamic scenes between Charlie and his family.
But my five-year-old would be bored before the intermission and I’m not sure we’d get through to the end.
So Pure Imagination was brilliant?
It really was. In fact, I’d argue that Paul Slade Smith’s rendition of the song made the show, followed closely by Karina Russell, as Veruca Salt dancing with the Squirrels during the ‘Bad Nut’ scene, which was both beautiful and hilarious.
Lets get down to the serious stuff – costs.
Tickets for the show start at $59, but it wouldn’t be a trip to the Theatre without drinks and snacks.
A Wonka Candy Collection including Gobstoppers, Wonka Nerds, two Bertie Beetles costs $11.50. While a frozen fruit daiquiri in a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory memorabilia cup cost $12.50.
Talking of memorabilia how much will it set me back?
T-shirts start at $35 for a youth and a hoodie was $70. While the cheapest item was a magnet for $15 and the souvenir program cost $25. I was a bit disappointed that I couldn’t buy a Scrumdiddlyumptious bar.
Are there tickets still available?
There are still low and limited availability tickets available in January, including matinee performances on a Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.
For a larger choice of seats you’d be better looking to February and March. The show runs until May 19.
It was a show of two halves. The Second Act was fantastic and parts could stand alone without being propped up by the 1971 movie and the 2005 remake. But the First Act was hard work at times.
We watched George’s Marvellous Medicine last year at Wollongong’s Illawarra Performing Arts Centre and it was a 10 out of 10, but perhaps this was because it didn’t have such big shoes to fill.
I’d recommend taking children from 8-years-old upwards to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. They’ll have a laugh and will be inspired by the musical theater and will probably come home wanting to reread the book (always a win).But find a babysitter for any younger siblings.
Alternatively, if you fancy a child-free night out in Sydney, then this is a good choice, but you’ll need to know that a glass of bubbles costs $21.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is showing at Capitol Theatre, Sydney until May 19. Tickets start at $59.90.