Pure Imagination: ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ Broadway Review

By Katie Coryell, Contributing Writer

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It’s natural to want to feel transported into another world when watching a Broadway show. After a long day of work, school, stress or whatever it may be, people seek a way to escape the mundanities of everyday life. On Tuesday, Oct. 24, I was one of those people as I attended Broadway’s production of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” To quote the famous song, it really was “pure imagination.”

Within the first five minutes, the audience is transported into the melodic and lyrical world of Willy Wonka. The story is about a young boy named Charlie Bucket who is living in squalor with his four grandparents and his mother. Though he is poor in finances, he is rich with love and the simple joys of life.

Along with Charlie, four ungrateful children find golden tickets within their Willy Wonka candy bars: Violet Beauregarde, Augustus Gloop, Veruca Salt and Mike Teavee. The story follows the children’s journey through the factory with an inspiring message that dreams really can come true.

Actor Christian Borle gives an outstanding performance as Willy Wonka. His enchanting voice mixed with the lyrics of the original songs, such as “Candy Man,” “Pure Imagination” and “Golden Ticket,” make the two-and-a-half-hour show very mesmerizing. There are bits and pieces of hilarity and sarcasm that Borle adds, along with a soft and gentle side of him that is shown off toward the finale of the show.

While Borle leads the pack, the entire show is filled with talented cast members that make each musical number shine and warm the hearts of audiences each night, especially the talented young boys that play Charlie Bucket. Because these boys are under age, the show switches between three different actors every performance: Jake Ryan Flynn, Ryan Foust and Ryan Sell. However, they all carry the essence that is needed to deliver the magic of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

The first act of the show is mostly set in the small London town that Charlie lives in, but the second act is where the set begins to work its beauty. The audience is able to see everything that is admired about the original film, from the edible candy forest to the Oompa Loompas to the Great Glass Elevator.

These scenes not only provide escapism into a new world, but they also bring the magic onto the Broadway stage. Even the darker moments of the show are portrayed in such a way that intrigues the audience rather than scares them.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Christian Borle (center) stars as Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Photo courtesy of Joan Marcus via Playbill.com

I highly recommend “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” for anyone who is looking for a fun, colorful, must-see, family-friendly show. It is guaranteed to leave you wanting to come back for seconds.

For tickets, visit charlieonbroadway.com or call Ticketmaster at 877-250-2929.

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