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REVIEW: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory the musical (UK Tour) and £15 ticket deal for Glasgow!

Updated: Jan 29

25 January 2024

King's Theatre, Glasgow


Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - the musical (UK Tour 2023 /24)

Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - the musical tells the well-loved tale of Golden Ticket winner Charlie Bucket who meets mysterious confectionary wizard Willy Wonka on the trip of a lifetime to his top secret sweet factory.

When Wonka runs a competition offering five lucky winners a peak behind the gates of his chocolate factory, the whole world goes on a Wonka bar buying frenzy in the search for an elusive golden ticket.

Charlie Bucket's family can barely afford to eat, let alone splash out on chocolate treats, but when fate puts a Golden Ticket in Charlie's hands, a whole new world of wonder and excitement awaits.


This is not my first visit to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - the musical; I saw the same UK tour production almost one year ago at Edinburgh Playhouse. Now at its final venue on tour, the gorgeous Glasgow King's Theatre, enhancements have clearly been made and, as a result, the show feels much more satisfying, bright and magical than before.

Many of my original criticisms have been addressed. I said there should be a projection of many squirrels behind the one 'human sized' squirrel - and there is now a projection of squirrels! I said chocolate should be on sale in the foyer - there is plenty of chocolate on sale. I said there should be more wonder and colour - and this is somewhat better. More handheld props and colour have been added. More on that later.

I'm not going to pretend it is my feedback that is responsible for these changes; I'd never be so arrogant. But I dare say I wasn't alone in my critique, and that is the beauty of these long-running shows: the producers do listen to feedback and do adapt. As a result, this Charlie and the Chocolate factory - the musical is a marked improvement on the one I saw previously.

The cast of Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - the musical (UK Tour). Photo credit: Johan Persson

Act I centres around Charlie, Charlie's mum and grandparents who all live in a rundown shack and eat boiled cabbage soup. They don't have much, but they have each other. As they huddle together for warmth under their leaking roof, they can see and smell the mysterious chocolate factory that looms behind the large iron gates across the street.

The role of Charlie in the musical production is alternated between two boys and two girls in a clever piece of gender-blind casting. There is nothing in the story that says Charlie needs to be a boy, and it's wonderful that talented young female actresses have been given their own chance of a lifetime to play the iconic role.

Charlie on this occasion was played by local actress Jessie-Lou Harvie and she was out-of-this-world incredible! Wow, what a talent. As I said in my previous review, Charlie carries Act I. And Jessie-Lou carried it with quality and confidence. She brought so much spirit and personality to the character, and it was great to hear her play the role in her own, Scottish accent. The audience were on their feet for her at the end and deservedly so. What a superstar.

A standout performer for me the first time I saw this musical, and no different the second time around, Charlie's mum and Mike Teavee's mum, Leonie Spilsbury is a delight in both roles. The actress is hearing impaired, and it's lovely that her scenes incorporate some BSL (British Sign Language) too.

Gareth Snook continues to enchant as the curious 'Candy Man', Willy Wonka. He is the perfect mix of alluring and dark, wonderful, but also not immune to teaching a child a tough lesson or two. He's splendidly sinister.

The cast of Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - the musical (UK Tour). Photo credit: Johan Persson

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is one of the most popular children's books of all time thanks, in part, to the extraordinary inventions and fantastic rooms inside Wonka's sprawling factory. The challenge of bringing that incredible imagery to life on stage must've seemed insurmountable. The musical tackles the issue by mostly relying on projections in Act II as we tour the factory with the ticket winners.

I still agree that this is not ideal, and of course I would rather a physical chocolate waterfall and more solid, brilliant sets for all of the rooms. But honestly, that's unrealistic in terms of budget and logistics when the book calls for so many locations. The projections work very well, for example, when the group are in the elevator, descending through the many levels of Wonka's lower factory. The same speed and variation would never be achievable with physical sets. The Wonka Boat down the rainbow river makes full use of LED panels set into the stage floor, and in general, I feel the projections add plenty of interest and wonder that would have been otherwise unachievable.

I do still feel disappointed with The Chocolate Room. And although brilliant, colourful projections of flying sparks and magical trees have been added, this is the one iconic room around which the whole rest of the factory pivots. I feel some larger floor-standing flower lollipop props, sweetie mushrooms and candy-floss trees would've made the world of difference. The bare stage and floor does not cut it for this scene. It deserves more.

But other than that, I can't find much fault with this musical. It's hugely enjoyable.

The Oompah Loompas are different, that's for sure. Steam-punk metal creations are a far cry from the orange, cartoon-like creations we see in the films. But in the original, early editions of the novel the Oompah Loompas were described by Dahl as 'African pygmy slaves', hastily changed after deserved criticism. So why not steam-punk robots?! Oompah Loompas are open to interpretation. And their dance routines and creepy songs are a highlight of the musical.

The music and live orchestra throughout the whole show are great, and the ensemble cast playing multiple characters are all superb. Newsreaders Jerry (Ewan Gillies) and Cherry (Lucy Hutchison) bring some glorious moments of comedy to proceedings.

The cast of Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - the musical (UK Tour). Photo credit: Johan Persson

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - the musical brings the charming story to life in dazzling fashion at the Glasgow King's Theatre. Playing for the next two weeks, until Sunday 4th February, this is a beautiful show full of fun, song and wonder, but also with some important lessons to pay attention to. Do nasty children always meet a sticky end? You'll need to take a trip to the Chocolate Factory to find out!

🍫 Charlie and The Chocolate Factory – The Musical plays Glasgow's King’s Theatre until Sunday 4th February. Full listings and ticket offers below [jump to listings]


I don't want to repeat myself, and you will find more info on other aspects of the show, including the musical score, in my original review of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - the musical here

📸 Production photos: Johan Persson


Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - the musical CAST & CREATIVE

Gareth Snook Willy Wonka

Charlie Bucket Haydn Court, Harmony-Raine Riley, Isaac Sugden, Jessie-Lou Harvie

Mrs Bucket Leonie Spilsbury

Veruca Salt Kazmin Borrer

Mike Teavee Teddy Hinde

Violet Beauregarde Marisha Morgan

Augustus Gloop Robin Simões Da Silva

Grandpa Joe Michael D’Cruze

Grandpa George Christopher Howell

Grandma Josephine Kate Milner Evans (Brief Encounter)

Grandma Georgina Julie Mullins

The fully company includes Lydia Bradd, Darcie Brown, Josh Donovan and Ewan Gillies. In addition to, Lucy Hutchinson, Patrick King, Jodie Knight and Jonathan Macdonald. Additionally, Julie Mullins, Victoria Nicol, Katherine Picar and Lewis Rae. Lastly, Emma Robotham-Hunt, Ty-Reece Stewart and Natasha Volley.

Directed by Leeds Playhouse’s James Brining and adapted from Dahl’s novel by David Greig, Artistic Director of the The Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh, the show has music by Marc Shaiman and lyrics by Shaiman and Scott Wittman.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory features music supervision and orchestrations by David Shrubsole, set and costume design by Simon Higlett and choreography by Emily Jane Boyle. Musical direction is by Ellen Campbell, lighting by Tim Mitchell and sound by Mike Walker. Furthermore, video design is by Simon Wainwright, illusions by Chris Fisher, and casting by Jim Arnold.



Currently Playing!

Charlie and The Chocolate Factory – The Musical

The King’s Theatre, Glasgow

23 Jan – 4 Feb 2024

Tue – Sun: 7:30pm

Thurs: 1:00pm

Sat: 2:00pm

⚠️ TICKET OFFER: Use the code 'MIDWEEK15' to get tickets for £15 (+ fees) on many seats at Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday performances in Glasgow ⚠️

🎟️ Direct link to discounted tickets here:

Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - the musical (UK Tour) at Glasgow King's Theatre, 2024


🌟REVIEW: Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - the musical (UK Tour, Glasgow King's Theatre, 2024)🌟

🎟️ Disclosure: I was invited to review this show and received a complimentary ticket in exchange. Whether I am invited or not has absolutely no impact on my reviews or star ratings.

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📸 To see more pictures and videos follow @Lisa_InTheTheatre on Instagram

Lisa in the theatre. Scottish theatre reviewer. UK theatre blog. Glasgow Theatre. Edinburgh Theatre. Scotland theatre.


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