Theatre - and chocolate - lovers can escape to a world of pure imagination when the much anticipated UK and Ireland tour of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – The Musical opens its gates in Southampton in a month's time.

Based on the iconic story, this spectacular stage show follows the hit West End and Broadway productions to combine the memorable songs from the original 1970’s motion picture, including The Candy Man and Pure Imagination, with all new numbers from the multi award-winning songwriters of Hairspray.

When Charlie Bucket finds one of the five golden tickets to the Wonka Chocolate Factory, Charlie and the other winners can’t wait to feast on the sweets of their dreams. But beyond the gates, they discover more than just remarkable edible delights. As they embark on an extraordinary journey through Willy Wonka’s marvellous mind, they soon learn that nobody leaves the same way that they arrived…

READ MORE: Bluey's big play to visit Southampton's Mayflower Theatre in 2024

Leading the cast in the role of Willy Wonka will be West End star Gareth Snook.

He said: "All of the characters, from Wonka to Charlie and all the children, have been written so vividly that they’re enticing. They all come from such different backgrounds so kids can relate to them and their families. Although most are spoilt and excessive, and are allowed to be by their parents, kids find the enjoyment in it, especially when they get their just desserts. The story really has got everything… and who doesn’t like chocolate!

"Bizarrely I came to Roald Dahl’s work later in life having not grown up with it. As an adult I can appreciate the intricacies of his work but wish I had come to his world of imagination much earlier – it really is fabulous!

"I watched the films when they came out, and I’ve revisited them again for research purposes, but I approached my interpretation with an open mind. Wonka is a mercurial character. He’s everything you want him to be, which is great fun to play, despite his cynicism and how sinister he is at times. You might say he’s as layered as a gobstopper!"

Daily Echo: Gareth Snook 'Willy Wonka' and Noah Walton 'Charlie Bucket' in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory runs from August 16 to September 3. Tickets from or 02380 711811.