Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Stars shine for Charlie stage show

Uma Thurman arriving at the opening night of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory

Uma Thurman, Sarah Jessica Parker and Barbara Windsor have joined other stars who attended the opening night of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory in the West End.

Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes is at the helm of the new stage production at London's Theatre Royal Drury Lane.

Based on the much loved children's book by Roald Dahl, the show features all new songs and music, along with spectacular set and costume designs recreating the world of Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory.

Douglas Hodge stars as eccentric factory boss Willy Wonka, while the cast also includes former Young Ones star Nigel Planer as Grandpa Joe, and young newcomer Jack Costello as Charlie Bucket.

Dahl's daughter Lucy revealed Jack is the grandson of her father's favourite nurse who cared for him at the end of his life. She said: "It's another reason that makes tonight very special for us. It's like he's watching. How else could that have happened?"

The story sees Charlie become one of the few lucky children to find a Golden Ticket and win a tour of the top secret sweet factory, run by the Oompa-Loompas. He is joined by greedy boy Augustus Gloop, a spoiled brat named Veruca Salt, a record-breaking gum chewer named Violet Beauregarde, and gaming addict Mike Teavee.

Sex And The City's SJP and husband Matthew Broderick brought their son James Wilkie to see the show, but left their young twin daughters at home. Former EastEnder Barbara said: "The West End is such a wonderful place and it should have shows that families can enjoy together. It's wonderful."

The show features music by Marc Shaiman, lyrics by Grammy winners Scott Wittman and Shaiman, a book by award-winning playwright and adaptor David Greig, set and costume designs by Mamma Mia!'s Mark Thompson and choreography by Matilda's Peter Darling.

It received mixed opening night reviews. Paul Taylor, writing for the Independent, gave the show four stars and although he applauded the leading performers he added that it "doesn't quite produce the inspired sugar-rush of magic that's required".

Quentin Letts gave the show three stars in his review for the Daily Mail after it failed to "melt" his heart. However Michael Billington in the Guardian praised the West End's latest addition, giving it four stars and crediting Mendes for "masterminding a lavish bonanza of a musical".

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