Recently we took the children on a surprise visit into London, they had no idea of our destination and I couldn’t have been more excited.
We were headed to see the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory musical at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane – London.
Now the children have seen many kids theatre shows over the past few years but this was to be their first full length show and while I was very excited for them, I was also nervous as to how they would react to the whole new experience, after all the kids theatre shows are usually around an hour long whereas the BIG west end shows are around 3 and a half hours in length.
Those of you with younger children will know my worry – will they sit still? will they get bored? will I have to keep taking them to the bathroom?
Thankfully not only did they sit perfectly still but they both loved this show from the off, were both engrossed and didn’t want it to end!
We were seated in the middle of the lower rows giving the children and us adults a good view. We had thankfully grabbed the kids booster seats upon our arrival as the tiers weren’t very steep meaning their view was obscured a little by the people sitting in front of us. We moved the children so they were behind the shorter of those infront of us however I did end up with Harry sitting on my lap for the entire show, which wasn’t overly comfortable but did mean he could see (although it may have obstructed those behind us slightly). If you can I would go for circle seats if you have children with you and can afford it as having a child on your lap for 2 and a half hours really does hurt.
I was so looking forward to this show as I am a huge Dahl fan, and while we haven’t finished reading this story to Emmy yet (I have read it many times myself), she has watched both movies a good few times.
Once the curtains lifted both children were mesmerised instantly – They saw Charlie on stage in a junk yard rummaging through the rubbish looking for hidden treasures which others would toss aside – a single glove which his Grandma would love, a used book with missing pages which his Grandpa could lay on to stop the springs on the bed digging into him. It’s a tale of making the most of a bad situation, not letting life get you down and always wearing a smile even when the odds are against you.
Charlie is the son of poor parents, working hard to make ends meet while looking after two sets of parents in a small home (Charlie’s much loved Grandparents), a tale which will resound with many of us – doing what you can to make ends meet and to get by. Now, while their situation may seem a million miles away from your own, many of us are only 3 pay checks away from poverty.
The scenery for this show was absolutely amazing, with moveable sets which could be changed quicker than I get dressed in the morning the change from street scene to Charlie’s modest home was fantastic. The scene changes were so quick that on occasions we found ourselves so engrossed in the performance that we missed the changes entirely.
The characters, although updated, were so true to the original book that you may be forgiven for thinking that the play came first, the actor playing Willy Wonker, acted with such eccentricity and was so natural in the role that it seemed the part was written just for him.
The children didn’t want this show to end and at half time got very upset thinking it had finished and they had to then go home.
Paul and I found ourselves singing along to the songs we knew well – much to Harry’s disgust who kept telling me to ‘Stop singing Mummy, I no hear the man’ – sorry Harry but I was enjoying myself.
Fits of laughter erupted from the entire audience during the factory tour and seeing the golden ticket winners fall foul to their greed was hilarious. Watching Augustus Gloop being sucked up the pipes for eating the chocolate from the waterfall was brilliantly executed and left Harry in fits of giggles at ‘the naughty boy not listening to Mr Wonker’. While Emmy could not stop laughing at watching Violet turn into a Blueberry and then explode with confetti falling from the theatre rafters and took it as a personal mission to collect as much as she could to bring home with us.
Nostalgia kicked in for Paul and I when ‘Pure Imagination’ was sung and we couldn’t help but join in, along with the other adults around us.
This really was a magical performance which gripped us all and left the children wanting to win a golden ticket for themselves and us adults transported back to our childhoods and wanting to reread the book again.
This show is currently the third longest running theatre show at this historic venue, however, it is set to close its doors sadly in early 2017. Charlie and the Chocolate factory has been running at the Theatre Royal since June 2013 and has seen more than 1.8 million theatre goers enjoy this show. If you would like to see this amazing show bookings are being taken until 7th January 2017. You can book your tickets from the box office here.
Disclaimer: We received tickets for this show in exchange for this post, all thoughts and opinions are my own and unbiased.