Magical chocolates, gooey treats and giant lollipops are the order of the day at the Groundlings Theatre, Portsea from April 5-8, as it performs Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Immortalised in the 1971 film, and the remake in 2005, Roald Dahl’s children’s classic follows the story of Charlie Bucket, who lives in extreme poverty with his family.
The largest chocolate factory in the world is in the middle of his town and is closed off to the public by the mysterious owner Willy Wonka.
But one day he decides to send out golden tickets for five children to visit his factory, and Charlie Bucket is one of the lucky few.
Speaking about the production, director of Groundlings Theatre Richard Stride says: ‘I think it’s just a fantastic childhood play, and I think especially at this time it’s really got that connection with Easter with the chocolate and sweets.
‘It’s that typical Cinderella story that we all love, with the underdog getting the gold at the end of it.’
Playing Willy Wonka is Tom Cawte, and Richard believes exploring his character is just as important as anything else in the play.
He adds: ‘It’s about why has he become the type of man that he is? He’s completely nuts really!’
At the theatre they’ve even brought the stage right out into the auditorium, scattering sweets around the space.
Richard says: ‘It’s almost like a giant sweet store, and interestingly the window at the back is just like the windows in the factory, so I think the theatre works really well.
‘With the characters we also have a real mix of children and adults so there’s a balance. The girl who plays Violet is only six and has a two-and-half page speech to learn, which is incredible.’
Designing the numerous giant sweets for the set took up a lot of time, and children from St Swithun’s Primary School, Southsea came in to help create them.
Richard adds: ‘They helped with wrapping them up, and it’s been fantastic to get other children involved who aren’t just with the drama school.’
n Tickets cost £6.50 to £12.50 from the Groundlings Theatre, Portsea on (023) 9273 7370 or go to groundlings.co.uk.