ROALD DAHL’s most treasured tale is coming to the land where sweet dreams come true—Broadway—in a delicious new musical! Willy Wonka, world famous inventor of the Everlasting Gobstopper, has just made an astonishing announcement. His marvelous—and mysterious—factory is opening its gates...to a lucky few. It’s a world of pure imagination.
Two-time Tony Award® winner CHRISTIAN BORLE (Something Rotten, Peter and the Starcatcher) is the magical maestro Willy Wonka himself.
The resulting goods were unveiled tonight at the Lunt-Fontanne (where Finding Neverland ran, as it happens) and while Charlie and the Chocolate Factory may not enjoy more critical approval in its second iteration, it’s going to make a ton of money, both on Broadway and the road. It’s goofy, loud and imaginative — superlatively so, in some key respects. And it delivers two things children delight in: stories about scrappy urchins triumphing over doltish adults (cf Annie, Matilda), and comical obliteration of ill-behaved nasties (cf Shockheaded Peter).
Hands down, the best thing about the new production (which originated in London in 2013 under director Sam Mendes) is Christian Borle as Wonka. With his natty purple-velvet tails, top hat, and cane, he’s a slightly mad maestro of milk chocolate. Borle, who won Tonys for both Something Rotten! and Peter and the Starcatcher, handles the near-impossible task remarkably well. During the rat-a-tat Act II opening song, “Strike That, Reverse It,” he takes on the pattery, tongue-twister lyrics with impressive ease. And he has just the right glimmer of menace in his eyes as he sizes up his pint-size guests like a hungry wolf.
Christian Borle, the two-time Tony Award winner who starred earlier this season in “Falsettos,” is the second best thing about “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” oozing a cynicism that is simultaneously original and an homage to Gene Wilder, star of the 1971 film.Borle dances, he dutifully sings, he works hard. And you wouldn’t want your kid hanging around this fella, which is how it should be. The show opens with the actor singing “The Candy Man,” evoking one of the most fondly remembered moments from the movie.