Charlie and the Chocolate Factory will make the world taste good for theatregoers in Milton Keynes from Thursday 9 February to Sunday 5 March.
Roald Dahl’s treasured tale is musical theatre’s golden ticket this year. The West End and Broadway favourite has been reinvented as a new show, which had its UK regional premiere at Leeds Playhouse during the Christmas season.
Milton Keynes Theatre is the first stop on the production’s nationwide tour. Ticketholders can expect a mesmerising joyride through a weird and wonderful world of pure imagination.
Charlie Bucket’s bland life is about to change forever. Willy Wonka, an eccentric and enigmatic chocolatier, has hidden five golden tickets in five bars of chocolate and any child who finds one will get to tour his incredible factory. Charlie and the other lucky winners can’t wait to step through the gates and spend an entire day feasting on delicious confectionery. But, as they explore Wonka’s wacky wonderland, the youngsters discover that everything is not quite as sweet as it seems.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is based on Dahl’s 1964 children’s novel and the classic 1971 film, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, starring Gene Wilder. Directed by James Brining and designed by Simon Higlett, the show promises to be choc-full of fantastical treats that will dazzle our senses. It certainly sounds like the perfect recipe: memorable songs from the film – including ‘Pure Imagination’ and ‘The Candy Man’ – feature alongside new numbers by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, the award-winning songwriters of Hairspray.
West End theatre actor Gareth Snook (The Phantom of the Opera, Les Misérables) will lead the cast as charismatic confectioner Willy Wonka. And young actors Amelia Minto, Kayleen Nguema, Isaac Sugden and Noah Walton are sharing the role of Charlie Bucket.
Without a doubt, Dahl’s fun-filled fantasy is an everlasting gobstopper of a creation. His book inspired not only the original film but also Tim Burton’s 2005 offering. What’s more, a prequel titled Wonka is due for release in December. Audiences appear to have an appetite for a morality tale that is sweetened with magic and mounds of chocolate!
On a scale of cabbage soup to a Whipple-Scrumptious Fudgemallow Delight bar, how excited should you be about this new musical? Well, whether you are a sweet-toothed schoolkid or a nostalgia-ridden adult, chances are you won’t want to miss this opportunity to experience the wonders of Wonka.
Running time: Approximately 2 hours 30 minutes, including one interval.
*Production photography by Johan Persson.
This preview is also featured on Total MK.
Update 13 February 2023: Read my review of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at Milton Keynes Theatre.
Georgina Butler is an editor, a dance writer and a ballet teacher.