Jack O’Brien replaces Sam Mendes as director of stage musical adaptation that aims to open in spring 2017
A stage musical version of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” has nabbed a golden ticket for Broadway, Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures, Langley Park Productions and Neal Street Productions announced Thursday.
The adaptation of Roald Dahl’s 1964 children’s fantasy novel — made famous in a 1971 movie starring Gene Wilder as a slightly creepy candyman — is due to open in spring 2017 in time for the next Tony Awards season.
Three-time Tony winner Jack O’Brien (“Hairspray,” “The Coast of Utopia”) will direct the Broadway production, with Emmy winner Joshua Bergasse (“Smash”) choreographing.
That’s a notable change from the London production, which opened in June 2013 to mixed reviews under the direction of Sam Mendes, with Peter Darling providing the choreography.
The cast, design team, Broadway theater and dates have yet to be announced.
The story has become one of the most beloved in kids’ literature since its publication. Candy maker Willy Wonka, world-famous and reclusive inventor of the Everlasting Gobstopper, opens his factory gates to a lucky few children, including the plucky young Charlie Bucket, whose life definitely needs sweetening.
The story was immortalized in the 1971 movie, featuring songs by Anthony Newley and lyricist Leslie Bricusse — only one of which, “Pure Imagination,” was preserved in the West End stage production.
“Sam and I have both spent our careers putting our personal spin on classics, be it by William Shakespeare or Roald Dahl. Since the first production was created for London it’s only fair we do an American version, and in America, our connection is to the 1971 movie and the indelible impression of Gene Wilder as the slyly wicked Wonka,” director Jack O’Brien said in a statement.
“The score will pay homage to the beloved Leslie Bricusse/ Anthony Newley songs that are integral to the American relationship to the story, combined with all new songs crafted by the American team that created one of Broadway’s most beloved scores, ‘Hairspray.’ There is room for both of these talented voices in one classic to tell our version of the story, as long as the story stays eternal and true.”