A look inside Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is on at The Grand from Nov. 21 to Dec. 24.

The enchanting world of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory will come to life on Nov. 21 on the Spriet Stage as the cast members embark into this classic fantasy musical. A captivating two-and-a-half-hour journey will be undertaken as the audience follows Charlie Bucket and the four other golden ticket winners through a magical land filled with chocolate wonders and Oompa Loompas. We’re diving into the behind the scenes from the director and a cast member to get a glimpse of what audience members can expect from this enchanting show.

Director Jan Alexandra Smith, who holds 37 years of performing arts experience and has been directing since 2007, shared that she’s lost count of how many times she’s watched the 1971 film adaptation of this classic tale. Growing up with the film version as a child, Smith felt it had “a very lasting impression,” on her and that she holds it “close to her heart.”

For those unfamiliar with the story of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Smith explained that it follows “a terribly poor young boy who has practically nothing but the love of his family and the dreams of becoming a chocolate maker.”

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When young Charlie wins the chance to tour “the most famous chocolate factory in the entire world,” he steps into a magical land of wonder.

Cast member, Melissa Mackenzie, who plays the role of Mrs. Bucket (Charlie’s mother) a hard-working single parent who also takes care of Charlie’s grandparents explained how imagination isn’t the first thing on her character’s mind.

Mackenzie explained that in some ways she can relate to her character in terms of being a “realist.”

“There’s a protection in Mrs. Bucket of not wanting to get hopes up too high and to stay tethered to the ground,” Mackenzie said. “But also, we still need to encourage ourselves to dream.”

While Mrs. Bucket restricts herself from a high level of imagination, there is a scene towards the end of the first act where she sings a lullaby to Charlie, highlighting her realization that she needs to dream and allow her son to continue to dream as well. Mackenzie said that this is her favourite scene and that Mrs. Bucket’s journey is “quite lovely.”

Both Smith and Mackenzie stated that the creative team they worked with was one of the main highlights of being a part of this production. For such an extraordinary musical, you really need “a team that works beautifully together and that always offers great ideas and great solutions,” Smith said.

“The joy, dedication, and commitment to community and storytelling is so present,” Mackenzie added.

As a big Charlie and the Chocolate Factory fan myself, I’m counting down the days until I can see an Oompa Loompa on a stage. Being someone a lot like Mrs. Bucket, who needs a lot of structure and in most cases a realistic point of view, I’m very excited to have my eyes opened by this musical that is filled with pure imagination.