I have always loved Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, but I’ve always been a little more skeptical of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Roald Dahl took his book in some places that were a little too dark for me, especially as a kid. But, I loved the movie’s sweet whimsy and charming wit. When I first saw clips and read about Charlie and the Chocolate Factory the Musical I wasn’t sure if I would like it. But, after listening to the recording for the Original Broadway Cast Recording of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Masterworks Broadway), I can say that I do enjoy the soundtrack from the show.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory the musical, tells the familiar story of young Charlie Bucket winning a golden ticket into the mysterious candy king Willy Wonka’s factory. The musical is based on the Roald Dahl book, with the book of the musical by David Grieg and music by Marc Shaiman and lyrics by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman. The music is full of bounce, humor and occasionally will make you brush a tear from your eye. The musical also contains stalwart songs from the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory such as “Pure Imagination,” “The Candy Man,” and others.
Whenever I listen to a new show soundtrack I ask myself what works and what doesn’t. What works about Charlie and the Chocolate Factory the musical is that it sometimes handles the big moments in the show more eloquently and more deftly than the movie of Willy Wonka did. I’ve always hated “Cheer Up Charlie,” and while the song “If Your Father Were Here” still pulls at your heartstrings, it does so in a more endearing way. The last song, “The View From Here” is an encouragement to the Charlie Bucket in all of us. As much as you love Charlie in the book and the movie, hearing his sweet heart in “A Letter From Charlie Bucket” will make you fall in love with this character even more. I love the character of Granpda Joe because he reminds me of my beloved Pappaw and the treatment of that character in the musical, truly brought Pappaw back to my heart. Willy Wonka’s whimsy is perfectly conveyed in numbers like “Strike That, Reverse It” and the musical’s treatment of “The Candy Man.”
What doesn’t work about this album? I hate that Veruca is Russian. Don’t we have to deal with enough Russian bombardment on Broadway and in the news, right now? I actually really hate the convention of having adults play the other kids. I feel that it allows the more gruesome lyrics and that was another element that made me uncomfortable. I’ll never hear the phrase “candied pork” the same. But, without having the charm of child actors, even bratty ones, Veruca is too grown-up and Violet is just too annoying.
Overall, my biggest complaint about the Original Broadway Cast Recording of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is that I don’t think it got enough of the love it deserved, particularly from the Tony Awards! It’s a fun, sweet show and the music and performances are worth checking out. If you know a chocoholic, a Broadway fan or a fan of Willy Wonka or Charlie Bucket, snag them a copy of this album.
Kari Liked: I think that some of the lyrics are really sweet (“A Letter From Charlie Bucket” and “The View From Here”) or funny (“Strike That, Reverse It”) and I like the modified use of songs from the movie.
Kari Didn’t Like: Conversely some of the lyrics were so dark that it made me uncomfortable. I didn’t like the use of adult actors for the kids.
When I first heard about Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, I was skeptical. When I heard a little of the music from it and found out Christian Borle was playing Willy Wonka, I started to get very excited about this show. After the tony nominations came out and didn’t nominate Charlie for anything, it made me wonder if I’d misjudged it. I’m happy to say that, based on listening to the Original Broadway Cast Recording of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at least, I am secure in my judgment, and it is the Tony’s that are off their nut (though I won’t wish Veruca’s nut based fate on any of them)
I loved how most of the songs retained a retro feel like they could have appeared in the movie from so long ago. Unfortunately, I don’t know how many others appreciated that feel and if that was part of the Tony snub.
While everyone has their moments, Borle is clearly the star, and is really impressive on many of his songs. “Pure Imagination” feels different than any other take on the classic than I’ve heard. What this show did with “Candy Man” was very smart, and “Strike That, Reverse It” perfectly shows off the character’s dangerous and charismatic zaniness, and Borle’s acting in his singing is really something to behold. “The View From Here” is a dreamer’s anthem that is the stuff that Broadway used to be made up entirely of.
Some people may not have liked the changes to the script, but the modernization and changes in nationality really do help answer the question, why another version of this classic? “Vidiots” and “Queen of Pop” especially stand out as providing fresh takes on these characters flaws in new and more modern ways.
I loved the cast recording to this show, and felt like Wonka’s great glass elevator had just turned its dial back to 1971 in all the best ways.
RJ Liked: the retro feel with the contemporary themes, and “The View From Here”
RJ Didn’t Like: I thought it was really good and can’t wait to listen to it again
(We were provided with a copy of the soundtrack from the label in exchange for an honest review, all opinions are our own.)