As youngsters, my children listened to the record (yes record) “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” until it was worn out. We also had the Sammy Davis rendition of “Candy Man” that their parents listened to as nauseas. Those days are gone forever and that includes my grand children’s listening days; they are past that point.
|Cast of "Charlie and The Chocolate Factory|
However it’s never too late to see Roald Dahl’s “Charlie And The Chocolate Factory”-The New Musical- at least once more. It’s a new adaptation directed by Jack O'Brien (yes that Jack O'Brien) with David Greig’s book, Marc Shaiman’s music and Scott Whitman and Marc Shaiman’s lyrics staying here through May 19th at the downtown Civic Theatre. Lot’s of big kids and little ones; some dressed to the nines with sparkling T -shirts bought for just this occasion.
The 1964 story that takes pretty much the same path as the book and the 1971 movie starring Gene Wilder that follows young and impoverished (“The Candy Man” and “Willy Wonka”) Charlie Bucket (smart and talented Henry Boshaer), whose love of chocolate is superseded only by his families need for food with the little income his mother brings in from doing laundry, is one of rags to riches, with as many twists and turns as Willy Wonka’s (Noah Weisberg) Scrumdiddlyumptious Candy Machine.
Wonka, fashioned on the darker side of the chocolate scale, closes his factory, disguises himself as an ordinary chocolate store- owner selling his candy on the street. Never mind that he’s a self centered, selfish and uncaring old man opening bars of candy and never once giving Charlie a scant square, but rewrapping the uneaten back into the paper. Bah Humbug!
|The Golden Ticket|
Being the candy lover that he is, Charlie hangs around the as much as he can to and from school while barely having enough odd change to buy day old veggies from the street vendor rather than a sweet from Willy’s candy store.
Interrupting Charlie’s visits, Willy brings in TV sales people to hawk his chocolates when eventually his idea to treat five lucky winners to tour his factory…if they find a ‘a golden ticket’ in one of his bars.
The winners, all spoiled and rotten kids, included a gluttonous Augustus Gloop (Matt Wood) an oversized ‘kid’ from Germany who stuffs his pockets with sausages, a spoiled, rich Russian Ballerina; Viola Beauregarde a talented (Brynn Williams) and her overindulgent father (David Samuel), a video game addict from Iowa, Mike Teavee (a too snotty Daniel Quadrino) and fresh from California a wanna be pop star.
Last but not least (no story without him) Charlie, who by the luck of the drawer bought the last bar from the vegetable vender turned candy vender. He and his grandfather Joe, the wonderful James Young were among those invited to tour the newly opened factory.
|Noah Weisberg leading the way as Willy Wonk|
With twenty or so musical numbers including “The Candy Man” (Leslie Bricusse/Anthony Newley) and “Pure Imagination” it was “The Oompa Loompa and all those “Oompa Loompa’s that brought the house down. Beautifully choreographed and with puppetry (Joshua Bergasse and Basil Twist) to really smile for.
Kudos to Amanda Rose as Mrs. Bucket, James Young as Grandpa Joe for always giving the best fatherly advice to Charlie; Jeff Sugg’s great projections (that frames the smallish show in the huge civic auditorium) and brings it closer to us, snappy and colorful lighting design by Japhy Weidman, Andrew Bergasse’s sound design and Marc Thompson’s effective and creative set design and period costumes.
|Cast of Charlie and The Chocolate Factory|
“Charlie And The Chocolate Factory” left yours truly with a rather empty and sick feeling (lack of a chocolate hand out?) after seeing what was a rather different expectation. Don’t know if the youngsters felt satisfied, most likely they did, but let’s hope the next time out we put some heart into the ingredients of those maker of candy bars.
As a side bar, one of my daughters is a chocolatier and her mission statement: “From my heart to your tummy”. Yup, you've gotta have heart!
See you at the theatre.
Dates: Through May 19th
Organization: Broadway Sand Diego
Production Type: Musical
Where: 1100 Third Ave. San Diego, CA 92101
Ticket Prices: $26.00-$73.00
Venue: Civic Theatre
Photo: Joan Marcus