Theater News

EXCLUSIVE: Willy’s Chocolate Experience to Play New Broadway Theater

The AI-generated Willy Wonka knockoff will open on 42nd Street after an out-of-town run in Glasgow.

A Wonkidoodle toils in the world premiere of Willy’s Chocolate Experience.
(© Reddit)

The producer of Willy’s Chocolate Experience has announced that the Roald Dahl rip-off will transfer to Broadway, with an opening-night performance slated for April 25 at 11pm — just in time for Tony Awards consideration.

The interactive show made international headlines in February when it played a warehouse in Glasgow. Lured by AI-generated images of a fantastical candy wonderland, Scottish ticket-buyers plunked down £35 each to enter the workshop of “Willy McDuff,” a whimsical chocolatier assisted by green-haired “Wonkidoodles” and haunted by “The Unknown,” a rival candy-maker who inhabits the walls of the factory.

Derided as “Willy Wonka’s Meth Lab,” the immersive production fell far short of the expectations set by marketing material, with actors struggling to bring coherence to a script that was obviously authored by ChatGPT, on a set that looked like a daycare on Riker’s Island. An audience revolt prematurely ended the run, with several ticket-buyers demanding refunds from the event’s visibly frazzled organizer.

“We learned so much from our out-of-town tryout,” the upbeat producer told TheaterMania, reframing the whole thing as a brilliant publicity stunt.

“I’ve been closely collaborating with our script doctor, Goog LeGemini, and I think we’ve solved the major problem of The Unknown being too…unknown. She is now an unhoused victim of Willy’s gentrification, a socially relevant backstory that I think makes for a much richer narrative. That was all the Glasgow run was missing, really.”

The 42nd Street McDonald’s in happier times.
(© John Benwell)

TheaterMania can exclusively reveal that Willy’s Chocolate Experience will play the defunct McDonald’s on 42nd Street next to the New Amsterdam Theatre. “It’s a perfect opportunity to snag tourists unable to get into Aladdin,” the producer enthused. “They might feel a little disappointed at first, but just wait until they get a load of our show.”

While the shuttered 42nd Street McDonald’s has not previously been considered a Broadway house, our investigations revealed that a certain former Broadway League president quietly elevated the venue on February 15 through an obscure administrative procedure that has gone unnoticed by the theatrical press until now.

“Between Here Lies Love and the revival of Cabaret, it’s clear that producers are seeking more versatile venues,” said the ex-prez when reached for comment, “and I can think of no better space for immersive shows than this hamburger palace with a theatrical marquee. You’re welcome, Broadway.”

Readers interested in a deeper dive should return to TheaterMania on Friday, when our desperate Story of the Week columnist will have banged out 2,000 words about why this is happening and how it will have absolutely no impact on this year’s Tony Awards.

Until then, we wish you a very happy April Fools’ Day.