Roald Dahl’s timeless 1964 classic comes to life on stage in this phenomenal, highly-imaginative production of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” now playing through October 21 at the Oriental Theatre in Chicago.
Capturing the dreams of the young and young at heart, the musical tells the story of the world-famous chocolatier Willy Wonka. Sales of his candy are down, so he holds a contest to award a tour of his factory to five lucky “golden ticket” winners.
Featuring a cast of zany characters, including an impoverished Charlie Bucket, the children and their families go on a life-altering journey through Wonka’s factory with surprising results.
With direction by three-time Tony Award® winner Jack O’Brien, the show features music by Grammy®, Emmy® and Tony Award® winner Marc Shaiman with lyrics by Grammy® and Tony Award® winners Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman.
Superb scenic and costume design by Mark Thompson recreates the colorful world of Willy Wonka. Innovative choreography by Joshua Bergasse highlights the show.
Gene Wilder starred in the 1971 film with such wonderful songs as “Pure Imagination,” “The Candy Man,” and “I’ve Got a Golden Ticket.” New music has been added to the show from the songwriters of “Hairspray,” including the powerful and visually beautiful, “The View from Here.”
It was fun to watch the numerous children in the audience as they experienced the Oompa-Loompas, eye-popping visuals, glass-elevator and crazy demise of the “spoiled” children.
My only issue with the show is the lack of consistent sense of place. Charlie’s family looks like they’re from the 1940s, Mike Teavee’s mom is straight out of the 1950s, while Mike has an I-PAD and Violet Beauregarde is a contemporary “Queen of Pop.”
Noah Weisberg is delightful as the purple-caped, top-hat-wearing Willy Wonka. He portrays Wonka with innocence and charm, yet a touch of evil.
Henry Boshart (Collin Jeffery and Rueby Wood alternates) steals the show as the downtrodden Charlie Bucket. He dreams of a better life for himself, his widowed mom and four beloved grandparents. He’s adorable, high energy with a sweet singing voice.
The real stars of the show are the Oompa-Loompas, creatively imagined as puppets and humans dancing together and the incredible dimensional visuals showcasing a world of candy, color and animation that are pure magic. The entire show is a graphic feast to behold.
“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” is an ideal show to introduce children to the world of musical theater.
DETAILS: “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” is at the Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph St. through Oct. 21, 2018. Running time: 2 hrs. 30 min. with one intermission. For tickets and other information, visit Broadway in Chicago.
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