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BWW Review: ROALD DAHL'S CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY at Rochester Broadway Theatre League

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BWW Review: ROALD DAHL'S CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY at Rochester Broadway Theatre League

The Rochester Broadway Theatre League continues its 2021-2022 season with a classic from the 20th century film and children's literary canon, set to music and adapted for the stage. Road Dahl's "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" features all the glitz, quirkiness and fantasy of the classic Gene Wilder film with snappy musical numbers, and magic that can only be found in live theatre.

When young Charlie (William Goldsman) wins a golden ticket to the mysterious Wonka Chocolate Factory, it's the chance of a lifetime to feast on the sweets and chocolates that have always been right under his nose but unaffordable for the Bucket family. Could it also be his family's route out of poverty? Along with the other winners--Veruca Salt (Angela Palladini), Violet Beauregarde (Zakiya Baptiste), Mike Teavee (Matthew Boyd Snyder), and Augustus Gloop (Nic Mains)--Charlie is swept inside of the mysterious factory with his Grandpa Joe (Steve McCoy). Inside, the winners encounter a magical world full of amazement, innovation, sugary treats, and, of course, Oompa-Loompas. But as the winners begin to let their greed and selfish nature's get the better of them, it seems that everything is not as sweet as it seems. Finally, Charlie is the last child standing--the only child not to have succumbed to the sweet temptations of Willy Wonka (Cody Garcia)'s magical world. His humble, loyal nature has not gone unnoticed by Mr. Wonka, and Charlie's reward is more than he could ever have dreamed.

"Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" is a joyfully fun musical for a whole host of reasons. The bright colored sets, the zany costumes, the whacky characters, and the mystically-odd Willy Wonka will delight fans of the film(s). If you loved the Oompa-Loompas, you'll be impressed further by the way this production brings them to life through a truly impressive bit of puppetry from the show's ensemble. And if you loved the film's iconic musical number "Pure Imagination", the Cody Garcia version is just as soaring as Gene Wilder's (and, dare I say, much more so than Johnny Depp's).

The cast is great all-around, but a special shoutout must be given to Steve McCoy. Grandpa Joe is a character that is both spunky and odd, but also funny and warmhearted like all grandpas are. McCoy does a magnificent job bringing this character to life on stage.

The most impressive feat of this stage adaptation is the way in which it blends a modern aesthetic (the writers and production designers swapped 1960's television sets for smart phones) with the snappiness and precision of the classic musical theatre cannon; sort of a TikTok meets "The Music Man." It creates a show that will appeal to older audiences who hold fondness for the movie, as well as younger audiences who might otherwise find the story stale.

"Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" is a whimsical, magically fun theatre experience for the whole family. It's playing at RBTL's Auditorium Theatre until November 21st, for tickets and more information click here.


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From This Author Colin Fleming-Stumpf