I admit to being mystified by this show. There were so many colours and so much movement that I found it hard to cast my mind back to the story, read in my youth, or possibly told in the classroom: I remember that elementary school teachers particularly liked to read aloud Roald Dahl, this one, or James and the Giant Peach.
But I do remember the story: awful children get their just desserts, and the dreamer, Charlie, ascends above them, becoming pals with the mysterious Willie Wonka.
But I either couldn’t follow the way the story is told here, or I just didn’t care. I was expecting good things from Shaiman and Wittman, the creators of the music for Hairspray, but none of the songs were memorable. The kids didn’t seem particularly more bratty than a lot of kids these days. I found some of their scenes of morbid demise amusing (giant squirrel attack!) but found the cultural comic stereotypes (Russians, Germans) not funny.
I’ve always enjoyed seeing Christian Borle, and thought he was good here, but didn’t have a lot of material to work with. The boy who played Charlie, however, was a highlight: occasionally I’ve found child actors to have a particularly precise style of belting out the bigger notes and keeping on the melodies. But Jack Ryan Flynn was infectious in his energy and gusto: not sentimental, just really being the role.
Reviews for the production are mediocre at best, though the Hollywood Reporter really trashes it. Darn, I wish we’d booked in advance for Dear Evan Hansen instead!