Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, New York
2017-05-14 • 18:30
This musical, which opened in London in 2013, has finally made it to Broadway, but in a rather different form.
For one thing, the producers have hired a new director, Jack O’Brien (the original production was directed by Sam Mendes). The first act has been given a radically different structure, giving more prominence to Willy Wonka and sadly eliminating the part of Charlie’s Father in the process. New songs have been added, like the lovely “The View From Here,” while several songs from the 1971 movie have been inserted: “The Candy Man,” “I’ve Got a Golden Ticket” and “The Oompa-Loompa Song” — “Pure Imagination” was the only song from the movie in the original London production, much to the audience’s chagrin.
In my opinion, this New York production is, overall, a more satisfying version of a show that’s been problematic since day one. Yet, there are moments when the discomfort of the American creative team at dealing with such un-PC material as a Roald Dahl novel is so palpable one is led to wonder why they chose to base a musical on it in the first place.
Christian Borle, arguably the most talented Broadway actor of his generation, gives yet another shining performance as Willy Wonka. He portrays the many complexities of the character with admirable gusto and inexhaustible charisma. Special mention to Emily Padgett for her touching portrayal of Charlie’s mother — her rendition of “If Your Father Were Here” is one of the show’s most touching moments.
Music by Marc Shaiman. Lyrics by Scott Wittman & Marc Shaiman. Book by David Greig. Based on the novel by Roald Dahl. With songs from the 1971 film, by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley.
Directed by Jack O’Brien. Choreography by Joshua Bergasse. With Christian Borle (Willy Wonka), Emily Padgett (Mrs. Bucket), John Rubinstein (Grandpa Joe), Jackie Hoffman (Mrs. Teavee), …