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SHOW OF THE WEEK

CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY


Photo by Joan Marcus
The Cast of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
The Cast of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
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Wondering what to do with the kids this week? How about surprising them with a Golden Ticket to a darkly, delicious musical treat and encouraging their imaginations to run rampant at Broadway’s Lunt-Fontanne Theatre with Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – our #ShowOfTheWeek?

Whether you’ve read the classic 1964 novel or seen either of those Hollywood film adaptations (starring Gene Wilder in 1971 and then starring Johnny Depp in 2005), you already know the story of the eccentric and secluded chocolatier extraordinaire Willy Wonka, who opens up the gates of his miraculous chocolate factory to the five lucky children, who found a coveted golden ticket in their Wonka chocolate bar one day. Now, let your lucky children experience those beloved characters come alive on stage in an all-singing and dancing, two-and-a-half-hour spectacular.

The Broadway incarnation has been completely re-vamped since its London world premiere, which played an impressive three and a half years in one of the West End’s largest venues. To pamper to our American audiences, the narrative has been swept away from the United Kingdom and now resides fully in the United States. In addition, even more songs from the 1971 movie, written by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley, have been inserted into the musical to give parents in the theatre a dose of added nostalgia. “The Candy Man Can,” “(I’ve Got A) Golden Ticket,” and the hypnotisingly catchy “Oomp Loompa Song” now join perhaps one of my favourite show tunes of all time in “Pure Imagination” to compliment Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman’s original score.

There is a great deal of necessary exposition to get through in the first Act of the musical – each child has to find a golden ticket and be properly introduced, after all – but when the factory doors open for Act II, the show suddenly snowballs into a raucously fast-paced jaunt through the wacky wonders of Wonka’s mind. Two-time Tony winner Christian Borle is in his comic element from this point onwards, tackling the tricky yet iconic character with just the right balance of dismissive eccentricity and hidden warmth. He commands the stage in every scene and presides over the chaos like a fictional bus conductor from the movie “Speed.” The production also challenges children in the audience – both young and old – to use their own pure imaginations during a scene where the contraptions in the room are completely invisible and the cast perilously makes its way through an obstacle course. In Act II, there are also some gloriously dark moments – and let’s face it, that’s one of the main reasons we were all drawn to Dahl as children – as the young brats are picked off one by one. A special mention goes to Broadway vet Jackie Hoffman, whose signature deadpan pessimism is a hilarious fit to the heavily-medicated, gin-swilling Mrs. Teavee. “It’s never a good sign when the little people start to sing,” she cries, as the Oompa Loompas serenade yet another victim of the factory. And speaking of those little people, designer Mark Thompson has done a marvellous job bringing the Oompa Loompas to life with a theatrical effect that might not be new – Shrek the Musical’s Lord Faarquaad springs to mind – but works every time and perhaps has never been implemented on this kind of scale before.

So, secure your Golden Ticket today and you’ll begin with a spin, travelling in the world of genius director Jack O’Brien’s creation… What you’ll see will defy explanation…

Click here for tickets to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which is booking through to April 22, 2018 at Broadway's Lunt-Fontanne Theatre.

- by Tom Millward

Production Details
Venue: Lunt-Fontanne Theatre
Genre: Musical
Previewed: 28 Mar 2017
Opened: 23 Apr 2017
Music & Lyrics: Marc Shaiman & Scott Wittman
Book: David Greig
Director: Jack O’Brien

Synopsis: Willy Wonka, world famous inventor of the Everlasting Gobstopper, has just made an astonishing announcement. His marvelous—and mysterious—factory is opening its gates…to a lucky few. That includes young Charlie Bucket, whose life definitely needs sweetening. He and four other golden ticket winners will embark on a mesmerizing, life-changing journey through Wonka's world of pure imagination. Get ready for chocolate waterfalls, exquisitely nutty squirrels and the great glass elevator, all to be revealed by Wonka's army of curious Oompa-Loompas.

Cast: Christian Borle (Willy Wonka), Jake Ryan Flynn/Ryan Foust/Ryan Sell (Charlie Bucket), John Rubinstein (Grandpa Joe), Emily Padgett (Mrs. Bucket), Kathy Fitzgerald (Mrs. Gloop), F. Michael Haynie (Augustus Gloop), Ben Crawford (Mr. Salt), Emma Pfaeffle (Veruca Salt), Alan H. Green (Mr. Beauregard), Trista Dollison (Violet Beauregard), Jackie Hoffman (Mrs. Teavee) and Michael Wartella (Mike Teavee)

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