Roald Dahl’s Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, the musical is now playing at Seattle Theatre Group, Paramount Theatre. Get ready to go back to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory as Dahl’s masterpiece of children’s literature is brought to life again.
You likely know the story already: the rarely seen, enigmatic chocolate maker Willy Wonka devises a scheme to find a successor to run his factory. By sticking five golden tickets in his world famous products, children around the world have a chance to see inside, and it just happens to be the dream of poor, little Charlie Bucket.
The show takes inspiration from the famous 1971 film adaptation starring Gene Wilder. Some of the famous songs from the film are sprinkled throughout, like ‘The Candy Man,’ ‘I’ve Got a Golden Ticket,’ ‘Pure Imagination,’ and the classic audience pleaser, ‘The Oompa Loompa Song.’ But while those familiar tunes will be the ones you can hum along to, this is a musical with an almost completely original soundtrack.
Additionally due to that originality, a nice change for this version is that each child gets their own song to sing, something lacking in the original film version. They’re all very capable dancers too, with easily identifiable choreography for each sequence.
Veruca Salt has been altered to be a Russian ballerina, and gets a memorable Nutcracker referencing dance with men in squirrel costumes. Violet Beauregarde is now an Instagram influencer, with an obnoxious hip hop dance that is equal parts exaggerated and hilarious. Mike Teavee has been suitably updated as an iPad, phone obsessed kid, who incorporates impressive acrobatics into his dance moves.
However, the greatest strength of the show might be its set design. Along with a hilariously rickety set for the Bucket household, it distinguishes itself from other stage musicals by relying on rear projected visual effects to bring the factory to life. The way the little Oompa Loompas are portrayed is also ingenious and uproarious, with the cast wearing black to blend into the background as they stick their heads onto doll bodies.
It may come across to some as overly cartoonish, but that’s what Dahl’s original novel was told like; a fairy tale with comical violence thrown in. The combination of these styles blends well and gives the public exactly what they want in bringing a classic of this magnitude to the stage.
Charlie and The Chocolate Factory is playing at The Paramount through August 11, so grab your golden ticket and jump into Wonka’s chocolate river boat today.