A timeless classic comes to life on stage with the theatrical presentation of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
The play starts out with a candy man explaining that Willy Wonka is a famous candy maker, but that his workers spy on him for other candy makers, and so he is forced to close his factory down. Soon, he reopens it, and then he announces a contest that people from all over the world are excited about.
Five golden tickets will be randomly inserted into Wonka bars all over the world. The prize for this ticket? A grand tour of Mr. Wonka's factory and a lifetime supply of chocolate!
The news comes out in the newspaper, which is delivered by the local paperboy, Charlie, a poor boy who would give anything to get into Willy Wonka's factory. Charlie gets a candy bar for his birthday, but there's no gold. By this time, four of the tickets have been found, one by a slightly overweight boy named Augustus, one by a gum chewing maniac in America named Violet, one by a spoiled girl named Veruca, and one by a boy named Mike who loves to watch TV.
While walking home one day, Charlie finds a dollar in the street. With it he goes to the candy shop and buys two candy bars. He opens one, no gold ticket. He chomps it up, and then, as he is about to gobble up the second one, he sees--gold!
The next day, the lucky contestants meet at Willy Wonka's factory. Greeted by Mr. Wonka himself, together they all travel to the "nerve center" of his factory, where everything is sugary, sweet, and edible. While they're there, Augustus accidentally falls into a chocolate river, all the kids get an everlasting gobstopper, and Mr. Wonka shows them all a machine that turns a piece of gum into a three-course dinner!
Violet, being an obsessive gum eater, chomps down on the gum right away, despite Mr. Wonka warnings to stop. On the third course--blueberry pie--she blows up into a giant blueberry and is rolled off to the de-juicing room by her mother.
Later, in the Golden Goose Room, Veruca huffs and puffs, demanding a golden goose NOW--even to the point where she starts destroying things and causing mischief. Because Veruca's father can't control her, she falls headlong down an egg tester chute and one more child is gone.
Now the last two children, Charlie and Mike, continue on to the Wonka Vision Room, where candy is transported onto a television screen for people to eat. Mike, being the TV addict he is, ends up getting himself transported and transformed into someone way, way smaller than normal size. He is taken off to the stretching room so he can be sized back to normal--and Charley is the last child left.
This means that Charlie has won the real contest, for in the story's twist we discover that Mr. Willy Wonka needs an heir, and so Charley is chosen! He will run the factory when Willy passes away!
The play's similarities to the movie are much more prominent than to the book. As a matter of fact, more detail really would've been better for the play. Sometimes we're left wondering: "What happened?" Also, I was not always able to hear the singing. I found myself straining to hear the words. The dance sequences though were wonderful.
Among the performances, I think the best was that of Veruca, played by Elizabeth Mazur, who gave a performance close to what I thought the real life Veruca would be like. Her singing and dancing skills were superb, and her acting was great. And, just like in the movie, you love to hate her.
Overall, I'd recommend this show for the dancing. It's a great play for kids of all ages.