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‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ Is a Wild, Musical Ride

Roald Dahl's fantastical world comes to life at The Paramount Theatre

Published on: August 02, 2019

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Photo:
Cast of “Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” on stage at Seattle's Paramount Theatre

Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” on stage now at Seattle's Paramount Theatre, follows the story of Willy Wonka, a world-class but washed-up chocolatier. Wacky Wonka designs his marketing strategy to entice the next generation of candy makers to buy Wonka-made treats.

To achieve this, Wonka makes a worldwide announcement: He’s opening up his magical, mysterious candy factory to the public — for the first time in history. The price of admission? One golden ticket. To get one, candy factory hopefuls must find one of just four golden tickets that are hidden in the wrappers of Wonka’s famous chocolate bars. 

Cast in Willy Wonka
Noah Weisberg (Willy Wonka) and cast review the factory contract

Kids from around the world are the four who score the tickets: Charlie Bucket, Veruca Salt, Mike Tevee and Violet Beauregarde. The inner workings of Wonka’s factory turn out to be mysterious, and even dangerous — especially for kids who won’t heed Wonka’s ominous warnings. Who among them will make it through the mysterious maze of magic and machinery to win the final prize?

The bottom line

Families are sure to enjoy this show. The storyline is widely familiar to most kids due to the classic book and the 1971 and 2005 films. But even for families who haven’t been introduced to the story before, it’s a simple and engaging tale.

The sets are wild and wacky with colorful combinations of modern digital screen projections together with outlandish, almost steampunk-esque set design. Charlie Bucket’s house looks like it’s an Airstream made entirely from metal scraps. Wonka’s factory looks like a toy model of an art-deco skyscraper. The flowers in Wonka’s oversized candy garden almost look like Chihuly glass sculptures from afar. The music is fun, nostalgic and whimsical, the costumes are outlandish and the dancing is fast-paced and thrilling.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Reuby Wood (Charlie) scores a golden ticket

The principal characters deliver stellar performances. Eleven-year-old Reuby Wood (one of the three kids in the cast playing Charlie Bucket) more than held his own, remaining on stage for nearly the entire show with energy, sincerity and a sense of wonder that perfectly captured Dahl’s, Charlie.

Brynn Williams (Violet Beauregarde) shined as a thoroughly selfie-obsessed gum influencer with accompanying entourage. And Daniel Quadrino’s (Mike Teavee) was so on the mark as an empathy-void screen addict, it was more eerie than funny at times.

Noah Weisberg (Willy Wonka) yielded the perfect balance of mystery, oddity and hilarity as the characters’ (and audience’s) tour guide throughout the night. The show is just the kind of raucous, over-the-top, fantastical and wild ride you’d expect of a Dahl-inspired musical.

Violet
Brynn William (Violet Beauregarde) and ensemble sing "Queen of Pop"

Several of the characters get a modern update that kids and parents alike will relate to. Violet is a vapid, velour-track-suit-wearing, Instagram influencer dubbed ‘the Queen of Pop’ (get it?) and Mike Teavee is a violence-obsessed gamer with ADHD.

Given these modern takes on the classic characters, I would have expected to see some of Dahl’s more outdated, concerning messaging updated as well. I was disappointed to see that humor throughout the musical still heavily relied on fatphobia, xenophobia and able-ism for laughs. Augustus Gloop's weight is associated with greed and a lack of self-discipline throughout the show. The Oompa Loompas are still little people and indigenous (by way of costume design, but still.) Numerous mentions of medication are mocked and ridiculed about Mike Teavee and his self-medicating” mommy. 

Parents should know

  • The lobby has concessions and snacks; expect long lines for both concessions and restrooms during intermission.
  • If accessibility is an issue, try to get tickets near the aisle as the theater walkways get quite packed.
  • Arrive early to find parking and account for traffic. Many restaurant choices are within easy walking distance of the theater.

If you go…

When:Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” plays through Sunday, Aug. 11, with shows from Tuesday through Sunday.

Where: The Paramount Theatre at 911 Pine St., Seattle. Note: Only the orchestra level of The Paramount is accessible.

Tickets: Tickets start at $30. Buy online or in person at The Paramount's box office (Monday–Friday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.). For a limited-time discount, use the code “VERUCA” to buy one ticket and get one for half price. Details below:

Discount valid on performances Aug. 6–11. Not valid on previous purchases. All ticket sales are final. No refunds or exchanges. All patrons, regardless of age, must have a ticket. Due to the nature of live entertainment; dates, times, performers and prices are subject to change. Limit 8 tickets per order.

Run time:  2 hours and 30 minutes, including one 15-minute intermission.

Parking: Several garages and pay lots are located nearby the theater, though street parking, if you can find it, makes for a quicker getaway after the show. Consider transit or ride-hailing to avoid parking hassles.

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