A second bite of the Wonka bar: "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" reimagined for Broadway https://t.co/hURsnJpHtw— New York Times Arts (@nytimesarts) April 12, 2017
Previews are currently underway and so far, while the West End version was far from perfect, the majority of audiences are NOT happy with the changes from London to Broadway, especially O'Brien's decision to sacrifice the original lavish sets for minimalism, taking the concept of 'pure imagination' a little too literally (he says of this: ''The London vision might have been more literal. I like looking at things like color or design or imagination or proportion from Charlie's position.''), Americanizing the setting, updating the period to the digital age with unnecessary references to Drumpf, and casting adults in the roles of Augustus, Veruca, Violet and Mike (there's an unpopular reason for this); only Charlie is played by an actual child - well, like
A few snippets of those previews insider reports below (obviously, lots of SPOILERS!):
- ''When you get to view the factory for the first time and it's a 10ftx10ft box with cheap plastic ornaments you can't help but be underwhelmed.''
- ''It is such a different dynamic having Wonka interact with Charlie BEFORE he wins the Golden Ticket.''
- ''The music was rather disappointing. I can't remember a single melody besides the originals from the movie.''
- ''There was also an incredibly weird dance number with Charlie's mom and her dead husband.''
- ''[T]he kids are much more modernized (Mike Teavee is basically a mini Donald Trump and there are several lines that allude to this - 'tiny hands', 'yuuuuge', etc.).''
- ''The outside of the factory came to prominence at the very end of the act and was just a typical house. I didn't mind this being underwhelming because - at the time at least - I figured would add to the magic of the inside of the factory (I was wrong). Act two is pretty much entirely in the factory which, on its own, is literally just the stage with some angled walls. It's literally blank. The magical room where everything is edible is a 10x10 box that gets rolled downstage. It was laughable to be honest - even for a high school production to be honest.''
- ''Violet is concerned with how many people are following her YouTube channel (barf) and Mike sings about hashtags (barf) and complains about the bad cell reception in the factory that is keeping him from tweeting (double barf). Yet at other times things are set in an earlier time period. Chocolate bars are still a dollar, Brussels sprouts are like 5 cents and Grandpa Joe has been amassing a life savings of 79 cents. The juxtaposition of Dahl's elements and those of the modern world is disconcerting.''
- ''How can the factory be a room with four, blank blue walls? It's a disgrace. I thought we would see candy everywhere. I kept imagining would someone like Julie Taymor would have done with this material. This was so fricking cheap that it was an insult to the viewer.''
- ''I've greatly enjoyed many of Christian Borle's performances in the past, but I don't think this is his best work. He's trying to wring a whole lot of something out of nothing, but the whole thing is such a lost cause.''
- ''The true nadir was "Veruca's Nutcracker Suite," a shocking camp moment where Veruca dances around with humans in squirrel costumes before being torn limb from limb.''
- The opening: ''The curtain goes up to reveal a little clock tower type structure. Borle walks out from behind it in top hat and waistcoat, but with his back to the audience. He then simply turns around and we see he is brushing his teeth. (It's completely bizarre star non-entrance; surely there are other ways give Wonka's first appearance more oomph.) [...] In between each brush and spit Wonka tries on different accents to decide what person he will be today. The first time we hear him speak it is in a thick, "redneck" type accent. At first I thought, good god, could this be the most misguided character choice in history to make Wonka a hillbilly? The audience was obviously confused too and the line was met with crickets. Then he tried on the next accent- the audience caught on to the joke set up- but that doesn't mean they laughed much this time either. He finally settles on his own voice and then sings Candy Man on an essentially empty stage... The bit just isn't nearly funny.''
- ''I'm very sorry to report that it was one of the worst musicals I've seen in years, possibly a decade.''
- ''[T]he book, score, sets (or lack thereof), costumes, direction and acting were all awful, in my opinion.''
- ''But when you enter the beautifully decorated exterior of the Lunt Fontanne Theater to see this extremely well known property CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, you expect to be wowed. That made last night even more of a disappointment.''
- ''As I was looking and listening on in horror to "When Willy Met Oompa" - a dreadful production number with Willy Wonka surrounded by all of the Oopma Loompas and Violet Beauregard rolling along the stage periodically - I thought to myself, this has to be the ultimate low point of the show and it can't get any worse.''
- ''[T]the chocolate room was a green square with astroturf and a dingy fake chocolate lake barely large enough to hold Augustus Gloop.''
- ''When you create a show like CHARLIE, one of your main focuses should be to want to elicit audience applause when the chocolate factory set is finally revealed - instead it was met with silence and bewilderment.''
- ''Even with all three of those "sets" on the stage, the Lunt Fontanne stage still appeared 80% bare.''
- ''In what world does Grandpa Joe's life savings amount to 79 cents, cabbage is 5 cents, a high-end chocolate bar is a dollar, but smart phones and tweeting exist?''
- ''I'm all for bashing Trump in the theater or during award shows, but the lines about the morning tweets and little hands felt very out of place here and seemed like desperate attempts to get an audience response, which they did not.''
- ''CHARLIE deserves to be snubbed across the board.''
- ''[S]teer clear of CHARLIE.''
- ''If Christian Borle wasn't Wonka I probably would have hated it.''
- ''The biggest disappointment for me was the set. I was excepting something spectacular based on how much work they did to the outside of the theatre and pictures from London. The entire first act uses only two pieces that are set at the far left and right of the stage (the Buckett house and a candy shop). At intermission I desperately hoped that the reason behind the minimalist set was to blow us away when we entered the factory (kind of like when Dorothy lands in Oz). Sadly, the act one set was better than the second. Without giving away too much detail, the second looked like a model that should have been built in full scale.''
- ''The moment when Charlie finds the golden tickets is completely anti-climactic. The ballet between Charlie's mother and father is so out of place and grinds any momentum briefly gained by the lotto winners to a halt. The audience also seemed to be confused about whether or not the song/scene ended because many of the songs felt unfinished and seemed to be pausing for applause but should have gone into the next number directly.''
- ''Candy Man and Pure Imagination are cut up with dialogue and therefore not able to be truly enjoyed.''
- ''UPDATE (11 Apr.): ''There are no new songs in the show but they've changed quite a bit since the first preview. The first act is shorter by about 15 minutes and the second by 20 minutes.''
- ''Borle no longer does his "My name is Willy Wonka" in different voices bit to open the show.''
- ''They have completely cut the ending of the show. Now the show closes just after the glass elevator scene with Charlie stepping into the factory. The mangled children and Charlie's family no longer make an appearance.''
More at the Source below. Additional shots of CHARLIE AND THE NO SET FACTORY from previews can be found on Instagram. The rest of the text is my own.
Seriously, where's Dennis Kelly and
Source 1 | 2 | 3