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BWW Review: CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY OPENS AT THE KAUFFMAN CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS IN KANSAS CITY

BWW Review: CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY OPENS AT THE KAUFFMAN CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS IN KANSAS CITY

On occasion a show comes along that puts a smile on your lips from the opening curtain to the final bows, CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY is that kind of show. CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, presented by The American Theatre Guild, opened on Tuesday night at the Kauffman Center for Performing Arts. The staged musical is adapted from the children's novel by Roald Dahl with the book by David Greig, music by Marc Shaiman, and lyrics by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman.

The show premiered at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in London's West End in 2013, closing in 2017. The London production was revamped and opened in 2017 on Broadway a the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, running for nine months before closing in 2018. The U.S. tour, which began in 2018, is directed by Matt Lenz with choreography by Alison Solomon. In 2005 the fantasy film starring Johnny Depp as Willie Wonka and directed by Tim Burton opened at the Grauman's Chinese Theater where money was raised for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

I was totally fascinated and delighted with the appearance of the Oompa Loompas in the second act. Basil Twist was masterful in his design of the puppets representing the Emergency Response Team for Willie Wonka's Chocolate Factory. The theater exploded with laughter as they made their appearance singing, "The Oompa Loompa Song". The puppeteers did a fabulous job, making the movement of the puppets look real and boy could they dance.

CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY is the story of Charlie Bucket, a young boyBWW Review: CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY OPENS AT THE KAUFFMAN CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS IN KANSAS CITY from a poor family, who unknowingly meets Willie Wonka, the Candy Man, and discovers that the chocolate factory is being re-opened. Willie Wonka announces a contest involving five golden tickets hidden inside the wrapper of a Wonka chocolate bar. Charlie finds the last ticket and is taken by his grandpa to the Willie Wonka Chocolate Factory for a tour and to determine which of the five contestants would win the grand prize. What happens at the factory is hilarious.

At intermission I overheard a woman say to her companion that the actor portraying Willie Wonka was nearly as good as Johnny Depp. Cody Garcia is the actor in question and I agree to a point with the woman, he is nearly as good but then no one is ever as good as Depp. Garcia has a fabulous voice and brings comic energy to the stage that keeps the audience laughing throughout the performance.

Ryan Umbarila plays Charlie Bucket, sharing the role with Brody Bett, and gives an outstanding performance. I wonder what it must be like to be so young and so talented as to land a starring role with the national touring company. Umbarila has previously appeared as Young Joshua in Evil Lives Here.

CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY is suitable for adults and children alike, though I was surprised to see only a small number of children. CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY continues at the Kauffman through September 26. To purchase tickets online go to www.americantheatreguild.com/kansascity/charlie.

Photos courtesy of the American Theatre Guild



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