The Charlie and the Chocolate Factory musical that opened on London’s West End in 2013 finally has a Broadway release date and a director. Three-time Tony winner Jack O’Brien will replace Sam Mendes, who directed the British production but had to exit the American one due to scheduling difficulties.
In a statement, O’Brien explained that there will be some notable differences between the West End and Broadway versions of the musical. “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.” As such, the stateside production will feature a score that “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.”
The story of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory looks to be a difficult one to adapt; the West End production opened to mixed reviews, and any American production will have to compete in audiences’ minds with Gene Wilder’s iconic portrayal of the mad genius candyman—something not even Johnny Depp could do. For now, count us intrigued and cautiously optimistic.