Entertainment » Theatre

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

by Michelle  Sandoval
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Saturday Jun 1, 2019
 Henry Boshart as Charlie Bucket in "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory." Photo by Joan Marcus.
Henry Boshart as Charlie Bucket in "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory." Photo by Joan Marcus.  

There's a little bit of magic sprinkled with a whole lot of sweetness happening in Costa Mesa right now. Playing now through June 9, Roald Dahl's enchanted tale of a mysterious chocolate maker and a rambunctious group of kids has taken over the Segerstrom Center for the Arts with the touring production of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." And very much like this beloved confectioner, the show is brimming with laughs, magic and enough sugar to satisfy any sweet tooth.

I grew up reading Roald Dahl's stories, and "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory," the story from which this musical adapted, was always one of my favorites. The colorful characters and inventive candy creations transported me to magical places, and now decades later are doing the same for my young nephews. This story of a little boy down on his luck who gets a once in a lifetime opportunity thanks to an eccentric and kooky candy maker is one for the ages, and seeing it come to life on stage is definitely a treat.

"Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" is directed by three-time Tony Award winner Jack O'Brien, with music by Grammy, Emmy and Tony Award winner Marc Shaiman and lyrics by Grammy and Tony Award winners Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman. Theatergoers can expect to hear songs from the original film, including "Pure Imagination," and "I've Got a Golden Ticket," along with some new tunes. (Those are written by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse.)

The show remains true to the original story, with plenty of modern twists along the way. Everyone's favorite kids are there, but some have been given 21st Century upgrades; for instance, Violet Beauregarde (played by Brynn Williams) as a social media gum chewing celebrity, and Mike Teavee (Daniel Quadrino) as a videogame and technology-obsessed boy.

Veruca Salt, played by Jessica Cohen, was a favorite, as she stomped and screamed her way through the factory in her ballet slippers making ridiculous demands. Look for Cohen's solo in the nut room during Act Two, where she dances her way around the sorting squirrels in an enchanting number that unfortunately will not end in her favor. It takes a special kind of show that allows for applause and laughter at a child's demise.

Henry Boshart takes on the role of Charlie Bucket and truly shines on stage. The passion he radiated was electric, as he hit every note and step with the professionalism of an actor well beyond his years. His stature may be small in size, but his performance was immeasurable.

The Candy Man himself, Willy Wonka, played by Noah Weisberg, is, of course, the magician holding the wand in this grand production. With very big shoes (and top hat) to fill, Weisberg's portrayal of the confectioner hits the mark. He's funny, charming, a bit scary, but most of all sweet, as he guides the troublesome kids through his fascinating factory.

The ensemble behind the puppeteering of the Oompa Loompas deserves high praise for giving the pint-sized workers mobility and tons of attitude. Poised behind miniature bodysuits, using their own faces to bring the Loompas to life, they danced and sang on stage creating a truly splendid spectacle. The audience erupted with joy whenever they broke into song and dance.

The gates to this mysterious factory don't open very often, so take advantage of Segerstrom's invitation inside the enchanting world of Willy Wonka. The story may come from a children's book, but I was delighted to see that there was plenty of dark humor and racy jokes to keep the parents in the audience laughing. So, grab the family and your golden tickets and enjoy your trip into a world of pure imagination.

"Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" is playing at Segerstrom Center for the Arts located at 600 Town Center Drive in Costa Mesa through June 9. For tickets and information visit www.SCFTA.org or call (714) 556-2787.


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