IN A world of pure imagination, anything is possible, and Roald Dahl’s Charlie and The Chocolate Factory – The Musical, proves this to be true.

The rags-to-riches story of Charlie Bucket and her quest to find one of the scarce golden tickets hidden inside Willy Wonka’s sought-after chocolate bars begins inside the tatty, falling-down shack she calls her home, where she lives with her mother and four grandparents.

Based on the much-loved children’s story by Dahl, the stage show follows the hit West End and Broadway productions to combine memorable songs from the original 1970s motion picture, along with all-new numbers from the multi award-winning songwriters of Hairspray.

Read more: Basingstoke restaurant named one of the best curry houses in England at awards

Charlie, played by the incredibly talented Harmony Raine-Riley, is desperate to find one of Wonka’s golden tickets, but with only one chance, her dream seems desperately unlikely.

Her family, who live in extreme poverty with her four grandparents sharing one bed and eating just cabbage soup every day, have nothing but each other’s love to keep them going.

For Charlie, that’s all she needs, and despite her dire circumstances, she remains bright, positive and ever-hopeful that maybe her dream will one day come true.

Dahl’s protagonists always have a few things in common – they are likeable, kind and set an exceptional example of how to be a good person – providing the younger members of the audience with great role models.

This is in contrast to the other four grotesque and undeserving child characters who one-by-one win the golden tickets, diminishing Charlie’s chances with every day that passes.

See also: Review: Magical, interactive show takes children on fairy-finding journey

But when, in a twist of fate, Charlie becomes the last person to find the fifth remaining golden ticket, she can hardly believe her eyes. In a heart-warming moment, Grandpa Joe, played by Michael D’Cruze, leaps out of bed for the first time in 20 years, determined to accompany his young granddaughter on what is set to be a wonderous, magical and extraordinary journey.

The first act was heart-warming and charming. But the second act is when the magic really happens.

The five children and their accompanying adults enter through the gates of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory where they discover the weird and wonderful world inside, all invented by Wonka’s marvellous mind.

Wonka, played by Gareth Snook, captures Dahl’s eccentric, enchanting, whacky character perfectly, as he leads the group on an unforgettable adventure.

The show transforms from the drab, shabby home of Charlie, to the bright and colourful world of Wonka, with incredible special effects used to astonish the audience as an almost unbelievable spectacle unfolded before our eyes.

I had to reassure my six-year-old son on a few occasions that some parts weren’t real! One unfortunate incident where Augustus Gloop is sucked up a chocolate pipe left my son aghast at what might have happened to the greedy, ghastly child. But I assured him that no one was harmed in the making of the production!

See more: Campaign to boost bus passenger numbers highlights attractions to visit for £2

The second-act passes by in a whoosh of colour, magic, and fun, with singing Oompa Loompas, fantastical, delicious-sounding confectionary of all kinds, incredible and edible delights, hilarious nut-sorting squirrels, a sumptuous chocolate river and multiple mishaps resulting in the other four spoilt children being picked off one by one, leaving just Charlie.

The show deviates from Dahl’s story slightly, including the elimination of some of the less memorable characters. However, it is Dahl’s first-class storytelling and loveable, creative characters that shine through and make this show a real triumph. We left feeling like we really had won a golden ticket.

This sensational, dazzling musical is set to take audiences to a world of pure imagination at The Mayflower Theatre until September 3.

For tickets visit