Roald Dahl’s CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY presented by Broadway in Cincinnati through Nov. 4. Click here for a synopsis and more information on the production. I attended the opening night performance.
Broadway in Cincinnati opens its 2018-2019 season with a new musical version of the classic children’s novel. Premiering in 2013 in London’s West End, the musical closed after three and a half years before being reworked for the Broadway stage. There it ran for nine months beginning April 2017. This touring production launched last month.
As someone who grew up with fond memories of the 1971 movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, this new musical is a bit of a mixed bag. Three songs from the movie have been incorporated into this production: “The Candy Man,” “I’ve Got a Golden Ticket,” and “Pure Imagination.” Mrs. Bucket’s ballad, “If Your Father Were Here” was my favorite of the new songs. That probably isn’t a fair statement as opening night was again plagued by sound issues. Any time the full orchestra kicked in, it became a struggle to hear the vocalists over the music. This happened most notably during the ticket winners’ intro numbers. Add in the heavy accents of the German Gloops and the now Russian Salts and the lyrics became unintelligible.
Performance-wise, I really enjoyed Amanda Rose as Mrs. Bucket. She had a lovely singing voice and it was easy to see where Charlie got his positive outlook on life. Tuesday evening Henry Boshart played Charlie Bucket and handled the demands of the role well. James Young was fun and charming in the role of Grandpa Joe. I did feel that Noah Weisberg has yet to find his footing in the role of Willy Wonka. Bigger and stronger choices would help in that regard. The show does sport a strong ensemble who handled the supporting roles (including the Oompa Loompas) and fun choreography very well.
The colorful costumes and intricate set pieces were visually interesting. The multi-media for the show was also hit-or-miss for me. For some scenes it added a fun visual element, for others its use seem to be an afterthought.
Overall, an entertaining but uneven musical with enough spectacle to keep audiences engaged.
My rating: 4.25 out of 5.
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