Liphook Amateur Productions
LAMPS adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, in Millennium Hall at the beginning of December, was probably the one of amateur dramatics group’s most successful productions to date. It pulled in record crowds, selling more than 90% of its seats across the four shows, with audiences being captivated by songs, comedy, drama and the occasional dance.
The show begins with most of the cast on stage playing the townspeople of Big Rock Candy Mountain, which, as signified by the scenery of towering walls and gates, is the home to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. However, all is not well in the town, as Wonka has not employed anyone from the local area for more than 20 years. This is relayed to the audience by roving reporter Stacey Starlight, (played amiably by Hannah Jackson) who goes on to interview Harold Bucket (Steve Skeet). Mr Bucket explains how life is by leading the cast in an eerie rendition of The Specials’ “Ghost Town”. At the end of the song we are introduced to our hero Charlie Bucket (a captivating Amy Bleakley), who has been staring passed the gates to the factory throughout the scene.
The next scene is introduced by Stacey Starlight, who reports that five lucky children will be allowed to visit the chocolate factory, if they find a golden ticket in one of the millions of Wonka bars around the world. This helps set the scene for most of the first half, with Charlie, who lives in abject poverty with his parents and four grandparents, looking for one of those lucky tickets.
This quest is intermixed with some moving songs. “Baby Mine” sung by Mrs Bucket (Karen Feeney) to a sleeping Charlie, brought some of the audience to tears, as did “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” which was beautifully performed by Bleakley. However, the mood is lightened once Charlie finds the ticket, with the grandparents, led by Grandpa Jo (an exquisitely geriatric Luca Whiteway, 13), singing The Beatles’ “Help”, as a cry for assistance to get out of bed for the first time in 20 years.
The final scene in the first act introduces us to the other ticket winners, their parents and of course Willy Wonka himself. The scene closes with Wonka (played by the versatile Rob Miller) singing “The Candy Man”, which the audience enjoyed immensely.
The second half of the show is set inside the factory, with each scene focusing on a different room and yet another child meeting an untimely end (to the tour). For instance, Violet Beauregarde (Ellen Meekin) turns into a blueberry after eating some experimental chewing gum. Before this happens Violet has a confrontation with another ticket winner, Verucca Salt (Natasha Lucas). This results in one of the highlights of the show with Meekin and Lucas, accompanied by Bleakley, belting out a fantastic rendition of “What is this feeling?” from the West End hit “Wicked!”.
Violet’s transformation into a blueberry culminated in a 5ft purple balloon being rolled onto stage by the Oompa Loompas, who were the unsung heroes of the show- acting, singing and dancing in the background throughout most of the second half.
The audience were treated to some fantastic renditions of well-known songs, such as Queen’s “One Vision”, which saw Wonka and the Oompa Loompas broadcast chocolate across the airwaves.
The show culminates in Wonka announcing that Charlie is to inherit the chocolate factory, so that she will be able to live there with her family. In fact, Wonka confesses that he has been watching Charlie for a while, having been dressed as a tramp in the first scene and the hilarious Northern sweetshop owner in scene six. The Buckets are amazed that it is their sweet child who has been chosen – cue the penultimate song: Guns ‘n’ Roses “Sweet Child of Mine”. Miller, Feeney and Skeet all rock out to what was a fantastic climax to the show.
The entire cast is then reunited for a final performance of “The Candy Man”
“Well done to everyone, both cast and crew,” said Steve Baker, the show’s writer and director. “A lot of time and effort has gone into making the show what it is and we really could not do it without the support of the members’ families and the wider community as a whole. I would like to thank everyone in LAMPS for all their hard work, in particular my assistant director Kesh Patel, our producer Dave Rowlandson, musical director Rob Miller and Jane-of-all-trades Nicole Snelling.”
Musical December 2011
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