Sam Mendes' massive and magical production of Roald Dahl's classic, 'Charlie And The Chocolate Factory' has officially premiered in the West End.
When Sam Mendes first decided to adapt Roald Dahl's 49 year-old best loved children's book about an eccentric chocolate maker and one very lucky little boy, he hadn't anticipated the scale or scope of his Charlie And The Chocolate Factory production - or the time it would take to come to fruition.
Charlie And The Chocolate Factory has been brought to life on a large scale before: 1971's film saw Gene Wilder bring his unconventional and volatile incarnation of the mad professor of confectionery in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, whereas a Tim Burton movie kickstarted the franchise again in 2005 with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory that saw Johnny Depp on truly bizarre form.
Now, the legend has been brought to the West End by Skyfall director Sam Mendes, who also has a host of strong musicals under his belt, including Oliver! (1994) and Cabaret (1994). The Guardian hails the modern adaptation of Dahl's moral fable as a "sumptuous visual feast" and praises the effective "engaging and sinister" portrayal of Wonka by Douglas Hodge. Young Jack Costello's "adorable" performance as Charlie is lauded by The Independent, along with the band of entitled and greedy golden ticket-winning brats who accompany Charlie on the trip of a lifetime.
Director Sam Mendes spoke to Sky News about just how long his dream production had been in the pipeline: "Off and on I've been trying for 25 years to make it, and each time I got knocked back and they said the rights weren't available and next time it came round it was bigger and bigger and bigger."
He also spoke of how his vision escalated over time until it was big enough to be staged in the prestigious West End: "When I first wanted to do it, it was going to be on the Edinburgh Fringe, but now we've ended up on Drury Lane with almost the biggest possible production of it, which is exciting and terrifying simultaneously."
Although 70,000 people have already seen the show since it began previews in May, the gala opening saw hosts of celebrities descend on the Theatre Royal Drury Lane to be taken on a magical journey. Dahl's granddaughter Lucy was amongst the audience at last night's premiere, saying: "I've come in from California and I haven't seen any of it, so I feel like I'm one of the lucky children waiting for the gates of the chocolate factory to open."
Douglas Hodge [L] Plays Willy Wonka Whilst Sophie Dahl's [R] Grandfather, Roald, Wrote The Famous Novel.