Opera’s ‘dream factory’ conjures up a magical world for new West End show

27 Mehefin 2013

PRESS RELEASE: 27 June 2013

Opera’s ‘dream factory’ conjures up a magical world for new West End show

Welsh National Opera’s workshop Cardiff Theatrical Services (CTS) has been building part of the sets for the eagerly awaited new musical Charlie and the Chocolate Factory which opened in London’s West End this week.

The unremarkable grey sheds on the side of the railway line in Cardiff are the home to a team of artists - from painters and welders to carpenters and prop makers who can make the world of make-believe a reality.

Since the beginning of March 2013 a number of key pieces of the show have been built from scratch including the famous chocolate portal and suction pipe, a giant tangle of enormous factory pipes, a huge town bridge, a macerator and conveyor belts for the squirrel’s nut room and a pair of dancing inventing room pods.  All of these pieces were created in Wales before being transported to the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane where CTS staff helped with their installation.

CTS General Manager Darren Joyce says the initial conversation started last October: “Originally we were approached to look at building the Ooompa Loompa pipe gantry, which is one of the more challenging pieces of the design as it’s both complex and enormous. We then met with the designer Mark Thompson so we could see the set model and put together an accurate quote for this and other items.  In the end we were very successful and were commissioned to build several pieces, including the chocolate portal and suction pipe which play a big role in eliminating one of the ticket winners.” 

As well as building sets for WNO, CTS has created scenery for The Royal Opera, English National Opera, Glyndebourne Opera and The Met in New York.  For Cameron Mackintosh CTS has worked on Les Miserables, The Phantom of the Opera and Oliver!  Other work includes One Man Two Guvnors (UK tour) for the National Theatre, a TARDIS interior for Doctor Who, a pyramid structure for the closing ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games and a Christmas tree for London’s St Pancras Station.

Established in 1984, CTS provides employment for a core staff of 18 and a number of freelance artists.  Depending on the build, skills used can range from carpentry and welding to fine art painting and sculpture.

Darren explains how this build enabled CTS to offer employment to local artists: “Having this sizable chunk of work for the one project enabled us to take on an additional 25 members of staff on top of our permanent team of 18 for the project.  We also sub-contracted other local firms to work with us on this project, so all in all we have had around 70 people work on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory utilising the excellent technical and artistic skills that Cardiff has to offer.”

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Notes to Editors

•    Welsh National Opera is the national opera company for Wales. WNO is funded by the Arts Councils of Wales and England to provide large scale opera across Wales and to major cities in the English regions.

•    For more information, photos or interviews please contact Daryl Jenner, Senior Press Officer on 029 20635038 or daryl.jenner@wno.org.uk or Lowri Pugh-Morgan, Press Officer on 029 2063 5037 or lowri.pugh-morgan@wno.org.uk.

•    Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is produced by Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures, Neal Street Productions and Langley Park Productions www.charlieandthechocolatefactory.com