I laughed, teared up (several times) and applauded enthusiastically from the first note to the final bow of ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) last night.
We could all do with being transported to a better place right now and the fantastical world of Wonka is absolutely the place to land. If you are Brisbane based (or close) and need *all the cheer* and a world of pure imagination for a few hours, do book tickets before the final show on October 3rd.
Roald Dahl is one of the world’s most celebrated storytellers and ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ in particular has completely captured the imaginations of generations of adults and children alike. This new production is based on the original Broadway version and closely mirrors the 1971 film with Gene Wilder.
The acting in the Queensland chapter of Charlie is superb. Stephen Anderson completely owns Willy Wonka and puts his own darkly funny, maniacal twist on The Candy Man, and as each of the child/parent Golden Ticket winners were introduced, I felt I couldn’t love the next any more. Madison McKoy as the very contemporary ‘influencer dad’ Mr Beauregard was a particular favourite, as were Robert Grubb as Grandpa Jo, Lucy Maunder as Mrs Bucket and Jaxon Graham Wilson as Augustus Gloop – and the Oompa Loompas have to be seen to be believed!
Of course, the character of Charlie Bucket needs to shine brightly and I am pleased to say he does just this. At last nights production Edgar Stirling starred as Charlie Bucket (the role is shared by Edgar, Flynn Nowlan, Phineaus Knickerbocker and Cooper Matthews), and any 12 year old child who can maintain a character on stage for two hours is clearly a talent to watch. Edgar Stirling was a strong stage presence and pulled the audience with him through his characters highs and lows, hopes and dreams. Stirling’s genuine joy in playing this role is evident through the entire show and he and Stephen Anderson interacting with the entire cast at the final bow was Whipple Scrumptious goodness.
Taking Kids to the Theatre
My beautiful grandad took me along to my first ever musical at QPAC when I was quite young and I still have the program from Pirates of Penzance, as well as the program of every subsequent musical I saw with him, my parents and siblings. My own children have been going to QPAC since they were babies and next week The Beekeeper and I are taking our four kids to see ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ as a matinee performance. The Beekeeper looooooooves musicals (a little too much) and I envisage many weeks of him enthusiastically singing the songs in the car…
As a librarian and a primary school teacher I’m always keen on productions based on books. It’s so great to be able to prep beforehand by reading the book or listening to it in audio so they understand the narrative arc of the story, the characters and the setting.
I also think it’s wise to prepare young theatre goers about what to expect: the style of the production (puppetry? Musical? ballet?); the fact that the theatre will be dark, and of course theatre etiquette! I’ll never forget taking some small people to see the Angelina Ballerina ballet at QPAC many years ago and one of them loudly yelling at me from five seats away, ‘there are no words Megan! When will they talk Megan?!’…it was a long 90 minutes.
Get thee along to ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ while you can!
BOOKINGS: qpac.com.au or phone 136 246
If you like all things theatre, check out my interview here with Artistic director Nell Lee about the process of adapting a book for the stage.
September 16, 2021 at 11:03AM Megan Daley