“When a boy has just a touch of odd…He should know that odd is a gift from God.”
—“The View from Here,” from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the New Musical
The idea of seeing oddities as gifts is a fitting summary of this production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the New Musical, based on the book by Roald Dahl, that master of slightly twisted, always beautiful stories for children of all ages.
The boy with a touch of odd is the sugar-aware and wildly imaginative Charlie Bucket, and we saw him played in this production by the precocious Brody Bett. The story of Charlie and his family unfolds in the first act with great humor from the grandparents and an endearing and inspiring turn by Steve McCoy as Grandpa Joe. The set combines more complex elements with a certain minimalism: Charlie’s desk, chair, and bed are all represented by a wingback pulled center stage. The set design, overall, brings steampunk fun with the costumes (and candy!) offering technicolor contrast to both the junkyard finds of Charlie’s home and the gears and metal of the Factory.
As expected, the introduction of each of the problematic ticket-winning children leads to all manner of hijinks and humor. Augustus Gloop, Veruca Salt, Violet Beauregarde, and Mike Teevee are all here in all their terribleness and no better behaved than they’ve ever been. They’re all played to the finest hyperbolic extremes by the cast, and together with their parents, they offer (if we choose to listen) some timeless tips (or cautionary tales) for parenting. Prepare the younger ones for Veruca’s wild end at the hands of the slightly scary squirrels, and then use it as a reminder that we probably shouldn’t always get everything we want.
The songs of this production are a joy to hear—especially those from the original 1971 film, including “The Candy Man” and “I’ve Got a Golden Ticket.” The choreography is also a great addition to the storytelling, primarily those pieces performed by the famed Oompa Loompas. No spoilers here, but we’ll just say that you are likely to be surprised and delighted by this production’s Oompa Loompa cast—they just about steal the show.
Stay tuned to the strong close with “The View from Here” where we see more of Charlie’s great heart and confectionary creativity. The energy and joy of the curtain call was palpable and the Orpheum crowd delighted in seeing the characters return for a final bow. It’s showing through Sunday, the 19th, so grab a kid (or don’t!) and go catch this inspiring reminder that our imaginations are all that limit us.
Roald Dahl’s Charlie and The Chocolate Factory is showing at the Orpheum through January 19th. Get tickets here.
Cover image credit: The cast of Roald Dahl’s CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY. Photo by Jeremy Daniel