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Books to Broadway: Roald Dahl Teaches Life Lessons to Audiences in Magical Ways


Turning children's books into Broadway musicals has become very popular over the last few years. There is just something about seeing your favorite book from childhood coming to life on stage that just brings a little bit of magic back into the lives of audiences.

One beloved author has had four of his novels go from page to stage: Roald Dahl, including the Broadway's sweetest new musical, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. His short stories are known for having unexpected endings with an often dark comic mood, with adults often being the enemy of the main children characters. The tales often champion the kind-hearted, with moments of sentiment amidst the dark comic.

Let's take a look on the journey of these his shows from page to stage!

The new Broadway musical Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is currently open at Broadway's Lunt-Fontanne Theatre (205 West 46th Street). For more than 50 years, Roald Dahl's story of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has captured imaginations around the world, and now for the first time Broadway audiences are invited to experience Willy Wonka's delightful and semi-dark chocolate world first-hand.

Before the candy man made his way to Broadway, he created a world of pure imagination for nearly four years in the West End. The show began previews in May 2013 and finally closed after being extended five time in January 2017. Tony Award winner Douglas Hodge (La Cage aux Folles) led the show as Willy Wonka through May 2014 and was succeeded by Olivier Award winner Alex Jennings.

Broadway's Willy Wonka, Two-time Tony Award winner Christian Borle (Willy Wonka) leads a cast of 35 that includes Tony Award winner John Rubinstein as Grandpa Joe (Pippin), Emily Padgett as Mrs. Bucket (Side Show), Kathy Fitzgerald as Mrs. Gloop (9 to 5), F. Michael Haynie as Augustus Gloop (Wicked), Ben Crawford as Mr. Salt (Shrek), Emma Pfaeffle as Veruca Salt (Finding Neverland), Alan H. Green as Mr. Beauregarde (School of Rock), Trista Dollison as Violet Beauregarde (A Bronx Tale), Jackie Hoffman as Mrs. Teavee (On The Town), Michael Wartella as Mike Teavee (Tuck Everlasting) and introducing Jake Ryan Flynn, Ryan Foust and Ryan Sell making their Broadway debuts as Charlie Bucket, with Yesenia Ayala (Broadway Debut), Darius Barnes (Cinderella), Colin Bradbury (Come Fly Away), Jared Bradshaw (Jersey Boys), Ryan Breslin (Newsies), Kristy Cates (Finding Neverland), Madeleine Doherty (The Producers), Paloma Garcia-Lee (Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812), Stephanie Gibson (Cinderella), Talya Groves (Motown), Cory Lingner (On The Town), Elliott Mattox (Broadway Debut), Monette McKay (Memphis), Kyle Taylor Parker (Kinky Boots), Paul Slade Smith (Finding Neverland), Katie Webber (Wicked), Stephen Carrasco (Fiddler on the Roof), Robin Masella (Cats), Kristin Piro (An American In Paris), Amy Quanbeck (Broadway Debut), Michael Williams (On The Town), and Mikey Winslow (On The Town).

Directed by three-time Tony Award winner Jack O'Brien, Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory features music by Grammy, Emmy and Tony Award winner Marc Shaiman, lyrics by Grammy and Tony Award winners Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman, a book by Artistic Director of Edinburgh's Royal Lyceum theatre David Greig and choreography by Tony Award nominee and Emmy Award winner Joshua Bergasse. The production includes additional songs by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley from the 1971 Warner Bros. motion picture.

The Tony Award® winning Matilda the Musical closed on January 1, 2017, after playing 37 previews, 1,555 regular performances, and one Actors Fund performance. The production opened on April 11, 2013 (previews began March 4) at the Shubert Theatre (225 West 44th Street).

Produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company and The Dodgers, Matilda the Musical opened to rapturous reviews. Celebrated on 10 "Top Ten" lists of 2013, the production received four Tony Awards® and a Tony® Honor for Excellence in the Theater for each of the four girls who shared the title role, as well as two Outer Critics Circle Awards, five Drama Desk Awards including Best Musical, and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical.

Before Matilda reminded America that sometimes you have to be a little naughty, the original West End run opened in 2012 and swept the Olivier Awards with a record-breaking seven awards. Winner of over 75 major international awards, including 15 for Best Musical, Matilda the Musical has been seen by more than 6.5 million people worldwide.

After opening to rave reviews and winning a Sydney Theatre Award for Best Musical in 2015, the Australian production played a sold-out season at Melbourne's Princess Theatre. In July 2016, the production broke the record by winning all 13 Helpmann Awards for which it was nominated. The tour continues in Perth and to Adelaide before premiering in New Zealand at The Civic in Auckland in August 2017 for a strictly limited season.

In strictly limited 26-week season, Matilda played at Toronto's Ed Mirvish Theatre and took audiences by storM. Starring a cast of acclaimed Canadian musical theatre performers in principal roles and three exciting young talents sharing the title role, MATILDA THE MUSICAL is produced by The Royal Shakespeare Company and The Dodgers presented in Toronto by David Mirvish.

MATILDA THE MUSICAL was directed by Tony Award® winner Matthew Warchus, with a Tony Award®-winning book by playwright Dennis Kelly and music and lyrics by Australian comedian, musician and composer Tim Minchin.

Roald Dahl's James And The Giant Peach may not have gone to Broadway, but it is a musical for the whole family to enjoy! Featuring a wickedly tuneful score by the Tony Award-nominated team of Pasek and Paul (Dogfight and A Christmas Story The Musical) and a curiously quirky book by Timothy Allen McDonald (Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka, The Musical Adventures Of Flat Stanley), critics rave James And The Giant Peach JR. is a "masterpeach!"

Benj Pasek and Justin Paul announced in 2015 that the ultimate cast recording of their new musical Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach as a permanently-free download at The album features performances by stars from the stage and screen: Megan Hilty as Ladybug ("Smash," Wicked); Christian Borle as Grasshopper ("Peter Pan Live!," Peter and the Starcatcher); Brian d'Arcy James as Centipede (Sweet Smell of Success, "Smash"); Jackie Hoffman as Spiker (Hairspray, Xanadu); Mary Testa as Sponge (On The Town, 42nd Street); Luca Padovan as James (Newsies); Marc Kudisch as Ladahlord (Thoroughly Modern Millie, Disney's Beauty and the Beast);Daniel Breaker as Earthworm (Shrek the Musical, The Book of Mormon); and Sarah Stiles (Avenue Q, Hand To God) as Spider, with bonus tracks by Skylar Astin ("Middle of a Moment") and Megan Hilty ("Everywhere That You Are").

Director of Nuffield Theatre Sam Hodges announced in October 2016 the full cast for its brand new adaptation of Roald Dahl's classic Fantastic Mr Fox, a co-production with Curve, in association with Lyric Hammersmith. Greg Barnett plays Mr Fox, with Richard Atwill (Rat/Bean), Raphael Bushay (Badger/Boggis), Jade Croot (Kit), Sandy Foster(Rabbit), Lillie Flynn (Mrs Fox), Gruffudd Glyn (Mole/Bunce), Kelly Jackson (Mouse), and Edward Hole and Tanya Shields completing the ensemble, alongside actor-musicians, Patrick Burbridge, Anna Fordham and Richie Hart.

The play, adapted by Sam Holcroft, directed by Maria Aberg, and featuring original music from Arthur Darvill, receives its world premiere at Nuffield Theatre where it opens on 30 November, with previews from November 22, running until January 8, before touring the UK in 2017 beginning at Lyric Hammersmith on January 25.

Mr Fox is smart, clever and rather fantastic, but he doesn't realise how determined The Farmers are to get revenge. Can he hatch a plan to save his family and friends? Can they outrun the diggers and outsmart The Farmers, and can rabbit shut up long enough not to give the game away?

Roald Dahl's Fantastic Mr Fox is family fun at its finest. A juicy tale of greed, pride and the power of friendship, this flagship production for the Roald Dahl centenary celebrations, promises a dahlicious theatrical feast with live music and songs and gloriumptious designs. A wondercrump treat for the whole family!

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From This Author Danielle Ashley