As if timed for St. Patrick’s Day, Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures, Langley Park Productions and Neal Street Productions announced Thursday that multiple Tony Award-winning director Jack O’Brien will stage a revised version of the West End musical hit Roald Dahl’s Charlie And The Chocolate Factory on Broadway next spring. The show, an extravaganza that earned mixed reviews in London, originally was staged by Sam Mendes, whose Neal Street Productions continues as a co-producer of the show. Mendes said in December that he would not proceed with the show’s New York move. The producers also announced that Peter Darling, who choreographed the Mendes production, has been replaced by Joshua Bergasse.
Asked wether Douglas Hodge, star of the London production, will reprise on Broadway, a spokesman for the show said that all other details, including casting, design team, theater and specific dates, will be announced later.
Charlie And The Chocolate Factory has music by Grammy, Emmy and Tony Award winner Marc Shaiman, lyrics by Grammy and Tony Award winners Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman, and a book by David Grieg, artistic director of Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum theatre. Matilda, another musical hit based on a book by the irresistibly demented Dahl, continues at the Shubert Theatre.
“Why does Wonka want to do this Golden Ticket contest and what compels him to want to give it all away?” O’Brien asked himself in the announcement. “I started with the question why. This is the dramatic premise I hang the whole show on. Sam and I have both spent our careers putting our personal spin on classics, [whether] 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 [Willy] Wonka.
“The score will pay homage to the beloved Leslie Bricusse/Anthony Newley songs that are integral to the American relationship to the story,” O’Brien added, “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.”
O’Brien, a former artistic director of San Diego’s Old Globe Theater, won Tony Awards for his stagings of Hairspray, Henry IV, and The Coast Of Utopia. His array of Broadway credits includes It’s Only A Play and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Invention of Love and Porgy And Bess.
Bergasse won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Choreography for NBC’s Smash and his stage work includes the celebrated revival of Leonard Bernstein, Betty Comden and Adolph Green’s On The Town.