BWW Review: CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY is the Golden Ticket for Richmond Families This Weekend!
We all know the story of Charlie Bucket and what happens when he wins a golden ticket to see Willy Wonka's grand chocolate factory. In the new Broadway musical, now running at the Altria Theatre through September 22, the sweet-toothed story moves faster and the demise of the children is even darker than the two films based on the classic Roald Dahl novel.
The musical had much potential, but Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman's mostly original score is uninspired and forgettable, overwrought with ballads. David Greig's book brings the story to present day. The set by Mark Thompson, while colorful, relies too much on digital design and leaves the audience unsatisfied. Thompson's costume design is much more effective.
On media night, understudy Benjamin Howes stepped into the role of the iconic candyman and chocolatier. While Howes has a nice voice, it takes him a little while to settle into his performance. His playful turn as Willy Wonka in the second act is nimbler and much more enjoyable. Henry Boshart is perfectly cast as Charlie Bucket and Kevin Nietzel is solid as Grandpa George. Amanda Rose stands out as Mrs. Bucket and has a lovely voice.
The Oompa Loompas, crafted by puppetry designer Basil Twist, are the highlight of the production and an audience favorite. The entire energy in the audience changes with each appearance from the iconic and boisterous people from Loompa Land.
Despite its missteps, CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY is enjoyable for families and all who love the classic story.