By Chris Heide
If you are ready for a bombastic, lively, colorful and adult-themed music, disguised as a children’s production, then Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is he musical for you. The stage adaptation of the famous novel and nostalgic film puts a modernized, stylistic twist on a beloved relic of American pop culture.
According the press release, “Roald Dahl’s CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY tells the story of Willy Wonka, world famous inventor of the Everlasting Gobstopper, who 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 Oompa-Loompas, incredible inventions, the great glass elevator, and more, more, more at this everlasting showstopper! The hit Broadway musical features songs from the original film, including "Pure Imagination," "The Candy Man," and "I've Got a Golden Ticket," alongside a toe-tapping and ear-tickling new score from the songwriters from Hairspray.”
The least memorable moments from this production are the scenes that are an exact reproduction from the movie. It is the new original songs that give this show additional energy and intrigue, such as “Queen of Pop”. The show is seemingly more adult, and quite frankly dark, than the movie. This live adaptation makes is VERY clear that children are being murdered as part of Willy Wonka’s fantastical adventure.
The most poignant moments of the show are those that reflect on modern society, such as the bits of dialogue that critique the over-reliance on social media and imagined fame. Because of these updates, the show is much more accessible to adults. It is certainly not as family friendly as one might imagine. While this may sound like a critique, it is actually high praise. It is the darker, more adult moments, that helps elevate this show into a more memorable and impacting work of art.
Many of the performers in this iteration are masterful Rubey Wood is adorable and captivating as the titular Charlie and Noah Weisberg is uncomfortably hilarious as the devious Willy Wonka. Most of the supporting cast is also string, both in vocal ability and acting prowess. It would be difficult to find a weak link in this gaggle of talented performers.
If you are looking for an exciting, imaginative, and creative update of a beloved story, the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is absolutely the show for you.