A round-up of reviews for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane.
Sam Mendes directs Douglas Hodge as Willy Wonka in a new musical at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane based on Roald Dahl’s classic children’s story Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Critics were largely positive about the show, which didn’t set the reviews on fire with its music, but wowed with the spectacle and visual. Douglas Hodge enjoyed solid notices for his performance as Willy Wonka. See all reviews below including the Guardian, Telegraphy and New York Times.
REVIEWS ROUND-UP"With its Quality Street spectacle and technical wizardry, it throws a fortune at saying money isn’t everything."
"Most of the songs, by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, strike me as serviceable rather than memorable and David Greig’s script springs disappointingly few surprises. But the production has two good things going for it. Douglas Hodge is a splendidly charismatic and disconcerting Willy Wonka, brilliantly combining jokes with a twitchy hint of the psycho, and the child performers are superb. I have little doubt that the production will be a big hit. Its combination of imaginative nastiness and shameless sentimentality seem tailor-made for the unlovable age in which we live."
"This is the biggest homegrown musical of the year, and even if it doesn’t quite live up to the early hype it’s a tremendously inventive show. The industrious Oompa-Loompas are among its candy-coated pleasures, and the wizardry with which they’re brought to life is typical of a production that delights in its own cleverness."
"I wish I could be more enthusiastic about a story which, at its core, has a fine moral that goodness ‘must be believed to be seen’. This show should have followed that admirable philosophy and devoted more effort to heart and artistry instead of technical high jinks and pre-launch publicity."
"Greig’s adaptation, and Sam Mendes’ production, do well at matching the Dahlian blend of wonder, darkness and cheek... Overall, the brief in this case clearly is one of visual ravishment plus warm glow, and Mendes, Greig and all concerned come up to the mark. It is flavoursome yet familiar, and above all it won’t rot your teeth."
"Hodge gloriously reminds us that inside the beneficent Wonka lurks a testy authoritarian."
"It was as if, in sizing up the triumph of “Matilda,” the “Charlie” team thought, “O.K., they’ve already done clever and charming, so let’s go big and loud instead.” Never mind that Dahl’s original “Charlie,” like “Matilda,” champions the virtues of quiet inventiveness over attention-seeking boisterousness. This is a show that would appeal less to its title character — a good little chap of teeming depths (brightly played by the clear-voiced Jack Costello the night I saw the show) — than to the overindulged, easily bored brats who share the stage with him."
"The show’s visual splendor allows audiences to see how well their money has been spent. Dramatically, however, they’ve been short-changed."