Warner Bros. Wants Willy Wonka To Build A Chocolate Factory On Broadway

By Perri Nemiroff 2009-10-02 16:54:35discussion comments
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It looks like Sam Mendes found a golden ticket. According to THR’s Risky Biz, Warner Bros. is trying to bring Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to Broadway with the help of Mendes’ production company Neal Street Productions. Mendes is also flirting with the idea of directing the piece.

Moviegoers are primarily familiar with Mendes for having directed films like American Beauty, Road to Perdition and Revolutionary Road but he’s also directed a number of theatrical productions including Gypsy and The Vertical Hours. His hesitancy to pursue directorial duties results from a number of potential film projects, particularly Focus Features’ Middlemarch, Butcher’s Crossing and Netherland.

Clearly I prefer the big screen to the stage, but if Charlie and the Chocolate Factory actually makes it to Broadway, it could be huge. Superb source material cannot carry a film and that couldn’t be more evident than with the 2005 film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. How can you have a director as talented as Tim Burton and an actor as dynamic as Johnny Depp and still manage to tarnish a childhood classic? Okay, Mr. Slugworth creeped me out when I was a kid, but Charlie and the Chocolate Factory gave me nightmares at a much older age. The film was visually stunning, but conceptually bizarre.

There must be a major effort to take the best elements from the 1971 original, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and Burton’s 2005 version - the music and the imagery respectively - in order to recreate the characters and the factory effectively on stage. Warner Bros. seems to be on the right track because as the article explains “The concept behind the stage version of ‘Factory’ is to take the candy-colored set pieces -- seen most elaborately in the effects of Tim Burton's 2005 pic -- and translate them to the stage, while also creating new musical elements and transferring some that animated the pic.”

Scottish playwright David Greig is on board to write the book and Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman of the big screen version of Hairspray will be composing. As long as Warner Bros. nabs Mendes, or another director of his caliber, I’m faithful that at this point, a Broadway adaption could do this childhood favorite some justice.
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