LONDON, UK (CNN) -- A spectacular musical version of one of the world's best-loved children's books, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, opened in London on Tuesday. Director Sam Mendes postponed a decision on directing the next James Bond movie to bring Roald Dahl's story to the stage.
Just like chocolate, Willy Wonkas are a matter of taste and almost everyone has a favorite. Gene Wilder's Willy tickled the taste buds with a lighter flavor, while Jonny Depp's Wonka hinted at a dark secret within the centre.
And now the award-winning actor Douglas Hodge mixes the best of both ingredients to create his own recipe for the musical stage show of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Bringing Roald Dahl's magical story to the stage has been a long-held ambition for director Sam Mendes. He says, "All my childhood relationship with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory I hope I have brought to this show and it's something that's meant a lot to me for a very long time. I first tried to do this when I was student but they wouldn't give me the rights. I tried again when I was 25 and working in Chichester and they still wouldn't give me the rights. Each time I went back it got bigger and bigger and now here we are at Drury Lane."
Actors Mathew Broderick, Jessica Parker and Uma Thruman were among those attending the official opening night of a production which introduces new songs, surprises, twists and turns to the story and immerses audiences into a world of colorful characters and spectacular sets. Roald Dahl's daughter Ophelia Dahl says, "I think there are aspects to this that feel very emotional because you can't help feel connected to him and the bits and pieces of the story that feel like parts of him - obviously the chocolate, it goes without saying that he loved chocolate - but he loved to be creative and I think this is going to be one most creative shows anybody has seen for a long time."
Mendes says it's special that one of the Dahl family members is in the audience saying, "Very special and they've been amazing. Incredibly supportive and it's a sign of their confidence in Dahl's work that they allow people to do this - this is just the latest version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - there have been two others on screen and others on stage but this is the first on that scale that there's been mounted of that piece."
Wonka's enigmatic assistants the oompa loompahs appear as never before brought to life by a team of expert puppeteers.
Mendes had to juggle work on Charlie and the James Bond movie Skyfall last year and Hollywood continues to guess whether he's turned down, or merely postponed, an offer to direct the next 007. When asked, "Anyone who sees this can understand why you could make this a priority but is there a hope for Bond fans for a sequel?" Mendes replies, "Well I'm still in discussion with them but I just haven't had time to make a decision and I won't until this is open, this has been my priority until tonight."
In the meantime Charlie has granted Mendes a license to thrill theatre audiences with a production has the potential to melt the heart of the harshest critic and run as long as an ever-lasting gob-stopper.