Thursday, March 8, 2018

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: The New Musical: Original Broadway Cast Recording (on CD)

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: The New Musical: Original Broadway Cast Recording
by Mark Shaiman & others [Compact Disc 782.14 Cha]

Based on the classic 1964 youth novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by British author Roald Dahl, and its 1971 film adaptation, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (which starred the late, great Gene Wilder), this staged musical Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: The New Musical played on London’s West End from 2013 to 2017. A re-worked stage version for American audiences was performed on Broadway from April 2017 to January 2018. This is the soundtrack to the American version, which starred actor Christian Borle as Willy Wonka, and Broadway legend John Rubinstein as Grandpa Joe.

Brilliant but eccentric “candy man” Willy Wonka realizes that he needs to find a replacement for himself as head of his chocolate factory — someone with a brilliant imagination but a good sense of humanity, who won’t screw up his legacy. He runs a contest, in which any child who finds a Golden Ticket hidden under the wrapper of one of his Wonka Bars will be invited into Wonka’s factory, with a chance at winning “the Grand Prize”. The five children who each find a Golden Ticket are Augustus Gloop, a glutinous slob, Veruca Salt, a Russian heiress with no self control, Violet Beauregarde, a self-obsessed media celebrity (who holds the record for longest continuously chewed wad of bubble gum), Mike Teavee, a TV-and-Internet obsessed loner, who hacked his way to a free Golden Ticket, and our hero, Charlie Bucket, an idealistic waif who idolizes both his Grandpa Joe and Wonka. The children (and their adult companions) get a tour of the Wonka factory they (and the audience) will never forget, and Wonka ultimately finds his worthwhile successor.

The stage musical makes effective use of several of the pieces of music that appeared in the Wilder film, including “The Candy Man”, “I’ve Got a Golden Ticket”, “Pure Imagination”, and the hauntingly creepy “Oompa Loompa Song”. But composer and lyricist Mark Shaiman and Scott Wittman also created numerous new songs for the show. There is poignancy, in “A Letter From Charlie Bucket” and “If Your Father Were Here”, there’s wacky comedy in “Strike That! Reverse That!” and a new longer version of the Ooompa Loompa song, and each of the primary “children” characters has both an introductory song, and a song that is tied to their eventual demise. Along with the fast-paced “Strike That! Reverse That!”, my favorite two tracks are also new: “It Must Be Believed to Be Seen” and “The View From Here” — both are hauntingly beautiful pieces of music, in the midst of an over-the-top candy-coated fantasy of a musical. Christian Borle (“Something Rotten”, “Peter and the Starcatcher” on Broadway, and “Smash” on TV) is absolutely magnificent as Willy Wonka in his performances on this album — I would have loved to have seen him in the role on stage. He channels Gene Wilder’s unforgettable film performance, while still managing to put his own stamp on it. A national touring company will be starting a U.S. tour of this stage musical in late 2018, however it looks like the closest it will come to Lincoln/Omaha is Minneapolis and Denver. So, in the meantime, enjoy listening to this soundtrack CD and keep your fingers crossed that the musical makes it to Lincoln or Omaha or Kansas City!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try the film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, starring Gene Wilder. I recommend avoiding the 2005 version starring Johnny Depp.]
[ official Charlies and the Chocolate Factory musical web site ] | [ official Roald Dahl web site ]
Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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