CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, directed by Linda-Louise Swain and Sharon Rother, with musical direction by Bronwyn Maree, choreography by Jerry Fortuin and starring Reyn ffoulkes, Janelle Moore and Xanthe-Lee Esselaar. (PE Opera House, today at 6.30pm and tomorrow at 3.30pm and 6.30pm):
Reviewed by Angela Gillham
PULLING off a production like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – with a huge cast, tricky set changes and bizarre settings – is no easy feat, but one the Rother Swain Drama Studio has pulled off with aplomb.
With a cast that easily topped 50, one could imagine chaos on stage. But bar a little squirrel pushing her castmate off the stage, discipline and professionalism were the order of the day.
The studio has done well when it comes to sets, especially when one considers that a chocolate river, travel via television and a rubbish chute are needed.
The cast’s energy and enthusiasm must be commended with even those in the tiniest roles putting in a great effort.
In the role of Willie Wonka, Reyn ffoulkes is simply marvellous. There is much any aspiring young actor can learn from him.
From his confidence on stage to comedic timing and great facial expressions, he had the audience enthralled from the minute he stepped on stage.
Another standout performance came from Xanthe-Lee Esselaar as Grandpa Joe. Raising many a laugh this young actress has a great theatrical future.
In the title role Janelle Moore put in a solid performance as an endearing Charlie.
Emma Pieters as Violet Beauregarde was a delight to watch. Her over the top gum chewing made her every bit as obnoxious as she should be. Also great to watch was Ivana Beattie as spoilt brat Veruca Salt.
But in the cuteness stakes, the squirrels took the cake with the audience enchanted by the smallest cast members.
The large cast of Oompa Loompas provided high energy and also doubled up in other roles. They sang, danced and acted their hearts out.
Anyone with children would be well advised to take in the show – it will not disappoint.