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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory launches school workshops

Jonathan Slinger in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Photo: Matt Crockett Jonathan Slinger in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Photo: Matt Crockett
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West End musical Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is to launch a series of school workshops based around drama, singing and musical theatre.

The workshops will be led by practitioners connected with the production, including former cast members, and aim to enhance young people’s experience of seeing the musical.

Each workshop will be two hours long, with schools able to choose between drama, singing, musical theatre, dance or storytelling. Students will recreate scenes, or learn numbers, from the musical.

Although Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which is running at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, has previously offered resource packs that teachers can print off and use to devise their own lesson plans, this will be the first time the show has organised its own practitioners to deliver workshops.

The scheme is being led by the ArtsLink, an organisation formed in January this year, that connects young people with arts organisations.

Its managing director, Chris Warner, explained that each of the five workshops had been built in partnership with the show’s creative team. For example, he said that the drama workshop had been devised with the musical’s resident director.

“The workshops will be representative of what’s important to the production,” he said, adding: “Where possible, we are using people connected with the show. This is all part of the quality control of the workshops. They should feel connected with the production, not like bolt-on workshops that happen to have the name Charlie in front of them.”

Warner added that the workshops could be taken directly to schools, ahead of students seeing a performance of the show, or that students could participate in a workshop in London and see the show at the same time.

Money from the cost of the workshops will be reinvested in other educational initiatives that the musical runs for free, he added.

Caro Newling, who produces the show through production company Neal Street Productions, told The Stage the workshops were part of a drive to keep the musical fresh for young audiences.

“Yes, it’s about bums on seats, because school parties come and see the show, but it’s driven by a passion to keep refreshing the experience, and making people aware they can come into a theatre and have an experience that is not the same as watching something on screen – it’s more involving and can be more exciting,” she said.

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