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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is coming to Broadway

Written by
David Cote

Yesterday it was announced that the new musical Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, based on the 1964 children’s book that also inspired Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, will open on Broadway next spring. The show has been running on London’s West End since June 2013. The news came as a surprise for a few not-so-sweet reasons.

UK reviews were mixed
The candy-colored phantasmagoric sets, lights and costumes got plenty of critical praise, but the book and score did not. (We are looking forward to hearing Hairspray team Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman’s no-doubt sugar-coated songs.) You can’t have a hit without one of those things being rave-worthy. (Yes, Finding Neverland is still going, but for how long?) Still, if one thing is true about musical transfers from the West End, it’s this: A crappy hit musical in London can, theoretically, be show-doctored into shape for Broadway standards (see Sister Act, Priscilla: Queen of the Desert, American Psycho). London is the ultimate out-of-town tryout.

It’s a highly competitive market for family musicals
Looking at the Broadway landscape, it’s kind of amazing how many shows you can take kids or teens to: Aladdin, An American in Paris, Cats, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Fiddler on the Roof, Finding Neverland, The King and I, The Lion King, Matilda, School of Rock, Something Rotten, Tuck Everlasting and, of course, Wicked. And I’m sure every budding Broadway-bedazzled tween is begging their parents for tickets to Hamilton. It’s a pretty daunting marketplace.

Does Broadway need two Roald Dahl tuners?
A related concern, in one word: Matilda. Maybe the vast majority of kids and parents neither know nor care that Roald Dahl authored both books, but if they have to choose between the long-running hit—and the other one will two beloved movie adaptations—will Mom and Dad shell out for golden tickets? From a producers' standpoint, that business plan could be no more than “pure imagination.”

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