At the opening night for “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” at the Morrison Center, the center was packed with elderly couples, young adults and families alike. It was a stark contrast to last month’s “Hamilton” where there wasn’t as much diversity between the ages of attendees.
The audience’s broad age range is a testament to the reputation of the children’s novel that the musical is based on, as well as the movie that the musical pulls music from. Although, it’s surprising to me how a story featuring so much dark comedy has become so popular.
Until I saw it on the roster for Broadway in Boise, I had no idea “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” was even a musical. I am very glad I saw it. If I had the chance to go again, I would. However, I would love to bring some children along with me, as I feel some of the magic of the show was lost to me as an adult.
There were some of the classic songs from the Gene Wilder film, including “Pure Imagination” and “Candyman.” There were many other memorable scenes and songs I loved. Each golden-ticket child had their own song and dance number which was unique and fun.
Veruca Salt’s demise at the hands of life-size squirrels was a particularly absurd and hilarious moment. The Oompa-Loompas were incredibly clever, and the costumes were wonderfully bright and colorful.
My one criticism would be that, in the scenes featuring Willy Wonka’s factory, a screen often goes up and down which sometimes broke the immersion for me.
The most memorable scene to me, though, was one where the screen comes up and there’s a completely empty stage. During this scene, the performers pantomime the events happening on the stage.
Pantomime is when events, objects, or emotions are shown by movement and gesture rather than with physical presence. I think it is a vastly underutilized aspect of acting and theater (particularly within professional-level shows)!
Overall though, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” is a fun musical, and I think it would be more fun if the whole family can come along.