CMU School of Drama

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

In Broadway's New Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a Little Something For Everyone

Vogue: Few modern stories have had as many retellings as the improbable, outlandish, often harrowing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which Roald Dahl published in 1964—but few have made such a confection of the human state. Since its appearance, Charlie has been adapted into two mainstream films, an opera, and various video games (an irony for a parable of childhood overindulgence, but one its creator might have found truly scrumptious). In 2013 it became a London musical directed by Sam Mendes, with songs by Hairspray team Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, and set a record for weekly box-office grosses in the West End. This spring’s New York production, directed by the Broadway veteran Jack O’Brien, is a ground-up reimagining, complete with new songs, a modified script, and, as envisioned by its star, Christian Borle, a more humanized idea of the candy-making genius.

5 comments:

Rebecca Meckler said...

On thing I kept wondering as I read the article are the differences are between the American and British production. They make many references in the article to how the american version is a pared down version and that there are different songs from the movie. Also, the mention how this version of Charlie is an American story. Another aspect of this article that I really enjoyed is the different people’s perspective on the show. I think it’s fascinating that the show was interpreted to be about parenting, the bible, and mortality. Even though this is a well known story, everyone can walk out of the theater learning something different about themselves of the world we live it. Hopefully seeing the different interpretations in the article will encourage people to discuss, opening everyone's mind. Overall, this production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory sounds very interesting and I hope to get to see it.

Alexa James-Cardenas said...

Before reading this article, I watched a Stephen Colbert video where he interviews Christian Borle about the musical, which was titled, “The Christian Borle is the Willy Wonka We Deserve”. And it seems to me that, by the way they are advertising this production of the Chocolate Factor as not just a nostalgia show, but a totally new experience, this version will be visibly a whole lot darker then previous versions (mainly talking about the films). Although the original and adaptions all have obvious dark themes and twisted visuals, there always remained a more light-hearted and brighter side to the series of events (whether that was to mask the grittiness and disturbing events or if the situation was truly a gleeful one). When I look at Borle’s Willy Wonka, I immediately get a different vibe than Gene Wilder’s or Johnny Deep’s Wonka. For me Gene Wilder’s is more of a man of mystery who wears his heart on his sleeves, Johnny Deep’s was a man who tried to masquerade his pain and darkness in a flurry of nonsensical sweets, and Borle’s, well, it feels like a more forbidding man, though not unkind, shows his darkness too naturally. And I would definitely go see it.

Annie Scheuermann said...

When I was younger Roald Dahl books were my favorite. At home I still have my copies of his books which are well worn and falling apart. Dahl created an imaginative world that was so different from any other fairy tale land, it was humorous, a little creepy, and characters who you would never expect having the biggest heart. I enjoyed both of the Charlie and Chocolate Factory movies, the newer one was cartoony but I did not really mind that. I think that creating a Dahl world on stage is a tough challenge, because some of his ideas are not meant to live in our reality, a glass elevator that moves in every direction and traveling out into space, is not something I want to see tried on stage really, because it is not going to be as real as it lives in the pages in the book. I think that the casting of Christian Borle is great, he is popular and the show will reap those benefits for sure, and I think has a good chance at portraying the character.

Ali Whyte said...

I am so excited about this show. When my family switched from VHS to DVD, we only had a few, and the original move was one of the few we had so I would watch it on repeat. I saw the remake when it came out and thought it was a cool experiment in effects and definitely liked parts of it, but still stick with the original given the choice. I am sort of hoping that the musical includes flair from both, but I am really excited about the possibility for effects in this show. In this article they talk a lot about the concept and leading man, but when details become available, I would love to read about how they're planning to turn an actress into a blueberry or suck one up into a tube. I think it also opens up a lot in terms of scenery and costumes, both because of the effects angle but also just the absurdity and wonder associated with this in general.

David Kelley said...

I'm kinda curious to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The reason is I'm honestly curious on how they tackled the scope of the magical world that is the interior of the Chocolate Factory. While some might say that this is relatively trivial I would disagree, that is one of my strongest memories from watching the original movie as a kid. They just open up the doors and bam there is this huge magic world inside a build that while large is not big enough to possibly hold it. And to my mind the sense I feel would be one of the hardest aspects in making a new musical of the story. Aside from that factor I'm also interested in while they felt a need to completely remake the show when there had already been a fairly successful British version of Charlie and Chocolate Factory before? Where there messages in the the British version that they just did not feel would work with an American audience, what spurned this choice? Well we will see if the choice was the right one to make.