I’ll begin with a confession. My husband and I drove into Toronto this week to see Charlie And The Chocolate Factory having never read the book, nor seen the movies*. The thought at top of mind as we sat in traffic was, Why are we going to see another bloody musical, and a children’s production to boot? Yes. The mood was definitely Grinchish. Fortunately it dissipated within minutes of Charlie Bucket (Henry Boshart) appearing on stage, and we settled in to enjoy the performance.
The story, in quick summary, is about the series of events that transpire after Willy Wonka (Noah Weisberg), the owner of a chocolate factory, decides to give away his business to someone with pure imagination—someone who embodies “believing is seeing”. His challenge though is to find such a person. For the cynics in the audience, it’s clear at the outset that Wonka’s legacy will be to Charlie Bucket who “can’t stop making something out of nothing.” But it’s the fun, hi-jinks and creative ‘just desserts’ getting to that point that will make even skeptics laugh and clap with joy.
The Mirvish production delights on many levels. The acting is superb; the choreography is exuberant and entertaining; and the set, visuals, and costumes are candy-store bright. The story itself is engaging. I loved the portrayal of healthy inter-generational relationships, and melted at the fantasy dance between Charlie’s mother (Amanda Rose) and the ghost of his deceased father. A review would not be complete without noting the brilliant puppetry that makes the Oompa-Loompas come to life.
If you have children in your life who love song, dance or just plain silliness, take them in hand to see Charlie And The Chocolate Factory. It will be a delicious treat—without the calories or the caries.
* There have been two movies. Gene Wilder and Johnny Depp have each performed in the role of Willy Wonka.
Charlie And The Chocolate Factory is playing at The Princess of Wales in Toronto until January 6, 2019
Bonnie Lendrum is the author of Autumn’s Grace, the story of how one family manages the experience of palliative care with hope and humor despite sibling conflicts, generational pulls and career demands. Autumn’s Grace is a powerful commentary on the need for well-organized and well-funded palliative care in private homes and in residential hospices.