CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY
Her Majesty’s Theatre
Reviewed by Peter Kemp
Melbourne’s Her Majesty’s Theatre was the setting for the production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
A story of a poor boy, Charlie Bucket, who lives with his parents and grandparents in a small house where the four grandparents live in one bed which they haven’t left for 40 years. Charlie buys a chocolate bar which contains the last of five gold tickets to visit Willie Wonker’s Chocolate Factory.
The set was amazing, a background of a bridge way in the distance with a train crossing it. Foreground was the Bucket home with the four grandparents sitting up I ne big bed. The home was wheeled off and on as the occasion arose. The balance of the sets were relevant to each section of the story and appeared to grow more extravagantly at each change.
Appearing as Charlie Brown on opening night was Lenny Thomas, a 12- year old lad who gave an absolute stirling performance. With such talent as Lenny’s theatre in Australia has a great future.
Acclaimed actor who has appeared in London, on Broadway and Australia playing Grandpa Joe was Tony Sheldon. Grey-haired and bearded (especially grown for the role) Tony lived up to expectations giving a well-balanced performance working well with young Lenny. Charlie’s mother Mrs bucket was performed by Lucy Maunder. Lucy had the correct mannerisms of the character with poignancy and love plus throw in some dance and Lucy captured the hearts of the Melbourne audiences.
Willi Wonka was interpreted by Paul Slade Smith making his Australian debut and was one of the original Broadway cast of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory playing Grandpa George. His performance in Melbourne lived up to expectations in capturing the essence of Willie Wonka, with changes of attitudes from grim to warmth and pleasure of seeing Charlie in the factory.
The other Golden ticket winners did an excellent portrayal as spoiled brats in different ways.
There was Augustus Gloop who couldn’t get enough to eat. Augustus was played by Jake Fehily. Jake gave a good feel for such a character.
Veruca Salt, the Russian spoilt and I mean spoilt who does not know the meaning of NO . Karina Russell was dressed as a ballerina and danced throughout her performance and capturing the spoilt brat with aplomb.
The gum-chewing addict Violet Beauregard was given a good characterisation by Jayme – Lee Hanekom. Jayme0Lee helped keep the standard of the production to its high levels with her portrayal.
Mike Teevee was played by Harrison Riley who as Mike was a TV addict and when Willie Wonka stamped on his mobile phone(which greatly amused the audience) one would have thought his heart would break.
The Oompa-Loompas were cleverly done by puppets with the players dressed in black with their heads open as heads of the puppets. They danced, tap and rising above each other and sang the Oompa-Loompa songs as required.
A magnificent evening of theatre and as at this date many shows are sold out..