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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a stage musical based on the 1964 children's novel of the same name by Roald Dahl, with book by David Greig, music by Marc Shaiman and lyrics by Shaiman and Scott Wittman. The musical premiered in London's West End at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in June 2013 and ran for 3 years and 7 months before closing in January 2017. The show was reworked for a Broadway production opening in April 2017 at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre.
The musical is based on the 1964 children's novel by Roald Dahl. A first reading of the first act from the show was carried out in New York City in May 2010, with the intention of opening in London the following year.
Officially confirmed on 18 June 2012, producers announced that the show would play the London Palladium beginning in May 2013, with tickets going on sale in October 2012, before the venue was later changed to the Theatre Royal Drury Lane.
The book was written by playwright David Greig with original score composed by Marc Shaiman and lyrics by Scott Wittman and Shaiman. The production was directed by Sam Mendes, with choreography by Peter Darling, accompanied with the assistance Brandon Duncan, set design by Mark Thompson and lighting design by Paul Pyant.
The show presents a more contemporary version of the original story. During previews many changes took place, with the most major change to the show being the addition of the Great Glass Elevator.
West End (2013)
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was scheduled to begin previews on 17 May 2013, at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London, before holding its official opening night on 25 June 2013. The show was originally due to open at the London Palladium. Douglas Hodge was cast in the lead role of Willy Wonka, with further casting announced on 11 January 2013. Previews of the show were delayed by five days until 22 May, due to "unforeseen problems in the delivery of a piece of stage engineering by a contractor". Shortly after opening night the booking period for the show was extended until May 2014, with a further extension to November 2014, after approximately 300,000 people having attended the show by October 2013. The production booking had been further extended till 3 December 2016. The show currently holds the record for the highest weekly gross in the West End, grossing £1,080,260 during the week commencing 30 December 2013. The first major cast change took place in May 2014, when Alex Jennings replaced Hodge as Wonka. In May 2015 a second cast change took place, with Jonathan Slinger as Wonka.
On 23 February 2016, booking was once again extended through January 2017.
The West End production closed at Theatre Royal, Drury Lane on 7 January 2017, after running 1293 days at the theatre.
A reworked version of the show opened on Broadway in spring 2017 with changes including new direction by Jack O'Brien, choreography by Josh Bergasse and a new set design by original designer Mark Thompson. Mendes stays as producer only. O'Brien stated the score would pay homage to the Leslie Bricusse/Anthony Newley songs written for the 1971 film and would also feature the songs written by Shaiman and Wittman. In August 2016, O'Brien confirmed that "The Candy Man" and "Pure Imagination" would be included in the musical.
On 9 May 2016 it was announced that the show will open at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre starring Christian Borle as Willy Wonka. Previews began on 28 March 2017 and an opening night occurred on 23 April 2017. Reviews of the production were mixed to negative, with some critics citing poor staging and restructuring of the story as primary issues. The Broadway production is notably darker than the original production, with the four rotten Golden Ticket winners meeting grisly demises in the second act.
For this production, the characters of Augustus Gloop, Violet Beauregarde, Veruca Salt and Mike Teavee are played by adult actors, unlike the child actors in the London production, while the character of Charlie remains to be played by child actors.
In the announcement of the closure of the London production, it was also announced that there will be a UK tour was planned along with the Broadway production with dates, locations and casts to be announced at a later date.
A US tour is planned to go underway starting September 2018, with cast, location and dates to be announced at a later date.
The play opens with Charlie Bucket searching for valuables in a dump near his home. As he picks up candy wrappers, he speaks with a mysterious tramp, and heads home to his family ("Almost Nearly Perfect"). His home is a one-room shack under a railway arch. As he and his grandparents wait for their cabbage soup to boil, they tell Charlie about Willy Wonka ("The Amazing Tale of Mr. Willy Wonka"). After Charlie's father returns home dispirited from lack of work Charlie's mother tries to lift his spirits by saying he will find work when the parents begin singing about Charlie and what they have ('if your mother were here') later Charlie pens a letter about what he'd invented for his family to Wonka, folds it into a paper airplane and sends it flying out into the night ("A Letter from Charlie Bucket").
The next morning, Mrs. Bucket returns home from her night job and explains to the rest of the family that Willy Wonka is holding a competition where five lucky contestants must buy Wonka Bars to find a Golden Ticket to his factory and a lifetime's supply of candy. Charlie is desperate to win one, but he has no money. On their homemade TV, they hear of the first Golden Ticket winner, an obese Bavarian boy named Augustus Gloop ("More of Him to Love").
They soon learn that another ticket has been found by a spoiled British girl named Veruca Salt. Mr. Salt recounts how he won the ticket for his daughter ("When Veruca Says"). Charlie's birthday arrives, and his grandparents give him a Wonka Bar, but are disappointed when there is no Golden Ticket. As he eats, they hear of the discovery of the third Golden Ticket, in Hollywood by wannabe gum-chewing celebrity, Violet Beauregarde. She and her father brag about how they will now be even more famous because of the Golden Ticket and how Violet is going to be the "biggest" diva ever ("The Double Bubble Duchess"). Shortly after, the TV announces another Golden Ticket discovery, Mike Teavee and the Teavee family. Mike is a violent and obnoxious bully who is addicted to television and video games, and whose frantic mother spoils him rotten and explains his hazardous activities and how he used Wonka's password to get his Golden Ticket. ("It's Teavee Time").
With all but one ticket gone and no money to buy a bar, Charlie is desolate. His parents sing about how they wish they could raise their son together and about how they hope for a better life ("If Your Mother Were Here"). Winter comes, and one day Charlie finds some money dropped by a rich couple. Encouraged by the mysterious tramp, he buys a Wonka Bar, and finds a Golden Ticket inside that prompts Grandpa Joe to get out of bed and walk for the first time in forty years ("Don't Ya Pinch Me, Charlie"). On the day they are to enter the factory, Charlie and Grandpa Joe feel out of place amidst all the hoopla on the red carpet. Finally, the moment of truth arrives. With a choral fanfare, the factory door swings open and all eyes to turn to see the mysterious Willy Wonka, invites the Golden Ticket winners into his factory to see all the wonders ("It Must Be Believed to Be Seen").
Wonka gathers the ticket winners and explains the rules and regulations of the factory ("Strike That! Reverse It!"). With the contracts signed, Wonka then welcomes them into the Chocolate Room. As the children explore, the parents ask Wonka what its purpose is and Wonka bemusedly explains that is his artwork ("Simply Second Nature"). Veruca breaks the reverie with a scream as Augustus is drinking from the Chocolate River where falls into it and gets sucked up the chocolate extraction pipe. The families then look up to see dozens of tiny workers in red boiler suits called Oompa-Loompas, who make no effort to try and save Augustus ("Auf Wiedersehen Augustus Gloop").
With Augustus gone, Wonka is more concerned about the possible contamination of bones in his toffee. The party is shocked and mortified, but Wonka assures them that he'll be fine. The next room is the Inventing Room, where white-coated Oompa-Loompas mix and stir. Wonka gives each child an Everlasting Gobstopper, but Violet is unimpressed. Wonka shows her his latest creation, a three-course dinner in one stick of gum. When Violet sees the gum, she pops it into her mouth. Wonka warns her to stop chewing before dessert, but Violet ignores him and begins to turn purple and swell up into a giant blueberry. ("Juicy!"). Violet explodes in a shower of purple blueberry goo and glitter, but Wonka is unconcerned, sending Mr. Beauregarde to the Juicing Room, assuring that it can get her back to normal.
Wonka next leads the party on a high speed tour around the crazy corridors of his factory until, disoriented, they arrive at the Nut Room, where squirrels sort out nuts to see if they are good or bad. The good nuts are kept for them to eat while the bad nuts are thrown away down a rubbish chute. Veruca demands a squirrel. When Wonka refuses, she takes matters into her own hands, rushing to grab one for herself, instead she is judged a "bad nut", and she and her father are sent down the rubbish chute ("Veruca's Nutcracker Sweet"). Again, Wonka assures the remaining visitors that Veruca and her father will be all right.
Wonka leads the group through dark cellars, where all his mistakes are kept, finally arriving at a room he calls, The Department of the Future. Wonka demonstrates Chocolate Television. Mike is intrigued and despite Wonka's protests, he puts himself before the cameras, presses the remote and disappears in a puff of smoke. Mike hops from screen to screen until they finally pull him out, leaving him at only 6-inches tall. ("Vidiots!"). Mrs. Teevee is relieved as she won't have to worry about him causing big problems any more, and she places him in her purse and leaves the factory quite satisfied.
Charlie is the only child left. When Grandpa Joe asks about their lifetime supply of confectionery sweets, Mr. Wonka casually dismisses them saying that the Everlasting Gobstopper Charlie had got was the lifetime supply of candy. Grandpa Joe is angry, but Charlie defuses the situation saying that an Everlasting Gobstopper is still an amazing present. When he leaves with Grandpa Joe, Charlie opens a book which contains all of Wonka's ideas, adding a few of his own to the blank pages in the back. Wonka silently returns, and seeing Charlie's additions, he tells him he's won, inviting Charlie into his Great Glass Elevator so that he can show him his prize, the chocolate factory. ("Pure Imagination").
They return to Earth where Wonka announces he's leaving, and that Charlie is now in charge ("A Little Me"). He disappears, but as the Bucket family moves into the factory, Charlie sees the mysterious tramp outside the gates, who is revealed as Wonka. As the Oompa-Loompas and Charlie wave goodbye from the factory windows, Wonka vanishes, singing a reprise of "It Must Be Believed to Be Seen", leaving Charlie to ponder all of the adventures that are to come.
The play opens with Willy Wonka introducing himself, revealing that he's looking for an heir to run his legendary chocolate factory ("The Candy Man"). Wonka disguises himself as the storeowner of a local candy shop, which quickly attracts the attention of the town's residents and candy- obsessed Charlie Bucket. Despite having no money to spend on sweets, Charlie frequents the shop regularly and befriends the owner, unaware that he is Willy Wonka. Charlie tells him about Wonka's career ("Willy Wonka! Willy Wonka!") and remarks that he would do anything to see inside the factory, giving Wonka an idea. Charlie returns to the decrepit shack he lives in, which he shares with his mother and four bed-ridden grandparents: Grandpa George, Grandma Georgina, Grandpa Joe, and Grandma Josephine. Charlie and Grandpa Joe play a pretend game recalling how the latter became Wonka's security guard ("Charlie, You and I") before his mother comes home, giving Charlie an old notebook for homework. Charlie daydreams and scribbles a letter to Willy Wonka, suggesting new candies he should consider inventing, before folding it into a paper airplane and tossing it out the window into the night ("A Letter From Charlie Bucket"). The next day before he goes to school, he finds out that Wonka has hidden five Golden Tickets inside five Wonka Bars and that the people who find the tickets will win a tour of the factory and a lifetime supply of candy.
Unfortunately, Charlie's mother admits that money is tighter than usual and she cannot afford to buy him his annual birthday candy bar, leaving Charlie saddened at the fact that he has no chance of winning the contest. Grandpa Joe says he would gladly pay for one using his funeral savings, and Charlie's mood improves. As he passes by the candy store on his way home from school, he discovers the first ticket has been found by the "Bavarian Beefcake" Augustus Gloop, an obese boy obsessed with food ("More of Him to Love"). Charlie is sad that a chance is gone, and his mood worsens when he is interrupted with news of the second Golden Ticket winner, a spoiled Russian girl named Veruca Salt ("When Veruca Says"). Charlie attempts to buy his usual secondhand vegetables from local beggar-woman Mrs. Green, but is dismayed to find she has taken to selling chocolate and he can no longer afford her prices. His dismay is magnified when the third ticket is found by gum- chewing, wannabe celebrity Violet Beauregarde ("Queen of Pop") and the fourth ticket is found by technology addict Mike Teavee, who admits he hacked into Wonka's computers and found the fourth ticket ("What Could Possibly Go Wrong"). With his hopes of winning dashed, Charlie heads back home.
Upon arriving home, Charlie is overjoyed to find that his family have pooled their money to buy his birthday chocolate, but is crushed once more when the candy yields no Golden Ticket. His mother and his other three grandparents remark that their lives would be better if Charlie's father were still alive ("If Your Father Were Here"). The next day, Charlie visits the candy store only to find that all the inventory has sold and that the owner (Wonka) is closing up shop. After he leaves, Charlie discovers a single dollar left behind under the cash register. After attempting to return the dollar, Charlie runs into Mrs. Green once more and decides to buy a Wonka Bar instead of vegetables. As he opens the bar, he is elated to find the fifth Golden Ticket inside. He rushes home to share his good news with his family. Despite her happiness that Charlie has won, Mrs. Bucket is disappointed to learn that Charlie must be accompanied by an adult in order to go on the tour, as she is sure to lose her job if she asks for a day off of work. Grandpa Joe, however, claims that Charlie's good fortune is his "Call to Arms," and he decides to get out of bed for the first time in years so he can take Charlie on the tour. After a few failed attempts to stand up, Grandpa Joe finally gets on his feet and dances gleefully with Mrs. Bucket and Charlie ("Grandpa Joe/I've Got a Golden Ticket!"). The big day arrives, and the five winners are greeted at the factory gates by paparazzi and "Chocolate TV" reporters Cherry Sunday and Jerry Jubilee, making Charlie and Grandpa Joe feel out of place. Willy Wonka appears at last, and ushers the group into his factory ("It Must Be Believed to be Seen").
The five winners and their families check in with Wonka, where he explains the rules and regulations of his factory and has the parents sign a ridiculously long and complicated contract ("Strike That, Reverse It!"). Afterwards, the group enters the Chocolate Room, where everything is edible, and the children explore the candy-coated utopia ("Pure Imagination"). The adults however, are less impressed by the world of candy, as they see it as an impractical use of money and resources, much to Wonka's dismay. Despite Wonka's warnings, Augustus takes a drink from a molten chocolate lagoon and falls in. He then meets a terrible demise as he is sucked up a chocolate pipe leading to the Fudge Room. Wonka's pint-sized workers, the Oompa Loompas, arrive and make no effort to rescue Augustus ("The Oompa Loompa Song/Auf Wiedersehen Augustus Gloop"). Wonka fails to console Augustus's distraught mother, as he is more concerned with having to pick bones out of his fudge. The group is stricken, but Wonka assures them Augustus will be fine and sends Mrs. Gloop with the Oompa Loompas to find her son.
They continue into the Mixing Room, where an enormous mixing cup mashes random ingredients together to make new flavors and inventions, from furry lollypops to a glowing orb made from bananas and uranium dubbed "Liquid Sunshine." At Violet's request, he shows her a stick of gum, which contains a three-course meal. Violet and her father are overjoyed, as they believe the new product can catapult Violet into gum superstardom. Despite Wonka's warning that there is a problem with the dessert course and the gum is not yet safe to chew, Violet takes the gum and accidentally swallows it. The excess of juice in the gum causes her to swell up and turn into a human blueberry. Wonka sends Violet and her father to the Oompa Loompas for help, and is quickly distracted from the situation by Mrs. Teavee asking about the origin of the Oompa Loompas. Wonka and the Oompa Loompas recall the story of how they met ("When Willy Met Oompa"), not paying attention to Violet's growing size. Violet then explodes in a shower of purple goo onto her father after an Oompa Loompa shoots a blowdart at her. Wonka is unconcerned and sends Mr. Beauregarde to the Juicing Room, assuring him and the group that she will be fine.
Wonka decides that they should visit the ingredient storage corridors, but first they must traverse an invisible maze of deadly traps. The others are skeptical that the maze really exists, but change their minds when Mike Teavee gets beaten up by the invisible traps. The whole group passes through except for Grandpa Joe, who cannot bend down far enough to fit through the door. Undeterred, Wonka suggests changing course to go and see the Nut Room instead. Outside they meet Jeremy, a worker squirrel who sorts the good nuts from the bad. Veruca is enamored by Jeremy, and demands that her father buy her a squirrel. When Wonka refuses to sell, Veruca throws a tantrum and runs into the Sorting Room to retrieve one herself, against Wonka's warnings that the squirrels are very dangerous. Inside, she chases and dances with the squirrels, but tries to run when they begin to get violent. She is seized by the squirrels and dubbed a "bad nut", and is promptly torn apart to the horror of her father and the rest of the group ("Veruca's Nutcracker Sweet"). Wonka assures them that the Oompa Loompas will be able to put her back together, and Mr. Salt leaves to rescue his daughter. Mrs. Teavee reprimands Wonka for his belief that the Oompa Loompas can really save all the children from their certain demise, but he dismisses her and presses onward.
Wonka and the Teavees board the S.S. Wonka, a bathtub-shaped boat, and travel through an underground river deep below the factory. Charlie and Grandpa Joe, who were too slow to catch the boat, are forced to swim behind them wearing scuba helmets. Wonka leads them into the TV room, much to Mike's delight. Wonka demonstrates Chocolate Television, which uses a machine to send chocolate bars to TV screens. Mike's obsession with electronics overcomes him and, despite his mother and Wonka's protests, he uses the machine to teleport himself into a television set. However, they cannot locate him on the usual channel, so Wonka calls for the Oompa Loompas to bring more screens to try to find him faster. Mike jumps from screen to screen until his mother pulls him out, now as a doll-sized boy ("Vidiots"). Mrs. Teavee is relieved that her son won't be able to cause trouble anymore, and leaves the factory satisfied with her son in her purse.
Charlie is the only one left. Wonka leads him and Grandpa Joe to the Imagining room, where Wonka writes his ideas into a notebook. When Grandpa Joe asks about their lifetime supply of candy, Wonka replies by giving Charlie an Everlasting Gobstopper. Grandpa Joe is furious at Wonka giving his grandson a "measly Gobstopper," and the two quickly begin to fight. Charlie diffuses the situation, telling Grandpa Joe that the Gobstopper is a great present and that the trip to the factory was enough. Placated, Wonka ushers Grandpa Joe into his office to negotiate legal paperwork and warns Charlie not to touch anything. Charlie breaks the rules and opens the notebook, adding his own inventions to the blank pages in the back, only to be caught by Wonka. Although he seems angry at first, Wonka finds it incredible that Charlie is unable to stop inventing, even if it means breaking the rules. Wonka tells Charlie that he has won, and ushers him into his "Great Glass Elevator".
The two soar above town in the Great Glass Elevator, and Wonka tells Charlie that his grand prize is the chocolate factory ("The View From Here"). He reaches into his pocket and reveals that he received Charlie's letter after all, and wants to begin working on some of Charlie's inventions. As they land back outside the factory, Wonka is immediately ready to begin working but Charlie is concerned about what will happen to his family. Wonka explains that they have already been moved in to their own room in the factory, and invites Charlie in to begin their new life as candy-making partners.
†Lyrics by Leslie Bricusse, Music by Anthony Newley for the 1971 film, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. ††Replaced, as of 2016, by "Queen of Pop".
†Lyrics by Leslie Bricusse, Music by Anthony Newley for the 1971 film, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.
Original London cast recording
A London original cast album was released on 7 October 2013.
Original Broadway cast recording
A Broadway cast recording was released digitally on June 2nd and in stores on June 23 on the Masterworks Broadway label.
Principal roles and cast members
Notable West End replacements
Willy Wonka - Alex Jennings, Jonathan Slinger
Grandpa Joe - Barry James, Kraig Thornber
Mrs Teavee - Josefina Gabrielle
Mr Bucket - Richard Dempsey
The West End production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory received mixed to positive reviews from critics. While the physical production and quality of the performances were generally praised, the score and storytelling received criticism.
The Broadway incarnation of the production were mixed to negative reviews from critics. Despite the enormous overhaul to both the book and score from the London production, critics noted that the storytelling was still choppy and relied too heavily on humor. Criticism was also drawn to the decision to cast adults as the Golden Ticket winners instead of children, as well as the lackluster sets redesigned for Broadway. However, Christian Borle received widespread praise for his performance as Willy Wonka, even amongst negativity towards other aspects of the show.
Awards and nominations
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