And The Chocolate Factory
Is Magic
By Iride Aparicio
Noah Weisberg as Willy Wonka and company Roald Dahls CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY Photo by Joan Marcus (1).jpg

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

SAN FRANCISCO, CA-- Chocolates. Just the thought of them sends their aroma through our nostrils and their flavor to our mouths; we all love chocolates. So, it was not surprising that on the opening night for the Press, of  ROALD DAHL'S, "CHARLIE and the Chocolate Factory," a new musical based on  his novel, WILLY WONKA and the Chocolate Factory (1964), the  SHN Golden Gate Theatre was packed with children and their parents.

Playing the role of  Wonka, NOAH WEISBERG clad in a flashy outfit and top hat, appears on the stage and introduces  himself to the audience. He tells us that for decades he disappeared from the world. That now he has to retire but he does not know who will be able to replace the "Candy man"  who  can take a sunrise, sprinkle it with dew, cover it in chocolate and make a miracle or two. And as he taks and sings standing in front of a backdrop of silver-framed blocks arranged in the shape of a coil labyrinth, the Magic of  Willy Wonka begins spreading over ud a transporting us, vicariously, to his candy factory where everything is sweet.

We  don't know who Willy Wonka, the  creator of a world made out of candy, is. All we know about him is that he is a wealthy man; the sole owner of  a chocolate factory that nobody has ever seen because years ago, his heart was broken when his employees stole his candies' recipes. Since then, he closed its front door. But now he returned, and this time he is going to give five children, who find a Golden ticket inside the wrapping  of his  "Willy Wonka's chocolate bars," a chance to tour with him his candy factory. Every child around the world is buying his chocolates bars.

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    "The Bucket Family" with Mrs. Bucket, Grandpa Joe and Charlie front right.

Sadly, not the only child in "The Bucket family": grandpa Joe (JAMES YOUNG) grandma Josephine (JENNIFER JILL MALENKE)  grandma Georgina (CLAIRE NEUMANN)  grandpa George  (BENJAMIN HOWES) and Mrs. Bucket (AMANDA ROSE) a widow, with a little boy named  Charlie (HENRY BOWSHART). Charlie is a loving kid,  rich in imagination, but his family is so poor that they are unable to buy him a Willy Wonka's chocolate bar for his birthday.

He loves his candies, so Charlie uses his imagination and admiration for  Willy Wonka to write him a letter suggesting that he should invent candy that could be useful to the poor;  Licorice's shoe-laces, for his mother, dentures made from marzipan, for his grandma and pillows made from marshmallows. Happily, for his birthday, Granpa Joe's savings are enought to buy him a  "Willy wonka' chocolate bar which happens to be one with a Golden Ticket inside.

In complete  contrast  with the poor "Bucket Family" is the rich " Salt Family," in Russia. The child in this family is Veruga (JESSICA COHEN) the pampered spoiled bratt daughter of  Mr. Salt  (NATHANIEL HACKANN) who tell us in a song : "When Veruga says More, I buy another store." and who, in order to be sure that she gets a Golden ticket gives his peanut shellers (those who shell peanuts)  a thousand Wonka Bars to peel. His excuse was:  "Because when Veruga is happy, it is much better for her pappy."

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Willy Wonka (center) with the winners and their parents

The third winner is August Gloop (MATT WOOD) a big overweight kid that when describing his birth (using German words), Mrs. Gloop, his mother (KATHY FITZGERALD) sings: "So we (She and her husband) were wed and in mein magen (stomach) something big began to bloom, and my liver and my kidney had to vacate to make room. Then the blessed day arrived and out he rolled, so round and sweet. And the first words he uttered were: "Let's eat!"

The fourth winner of a Golden ticket is Mr. Beauregarde's (DAVID SAMUEL) spoiled Bubble Gum-chewing, daughter Violet, "The Queen of Pop"  (BRYNN WILLIAMS), who acts far from shy whe tells us in a song: "My daddy says that I am the best, my daddy says that I will go far. My daddy says that I am Blessed, my daddy says that I am a star."

The fifth winner,  Mike Teeves (DANIEL QUADRINO) comes from the "bosom of America," which his mother describes when singing: "Here in the bosom of America we love the things that make our country strong. We give our little songs lot of love and lots of guns. So, what could possible go wrong? We sit at our computer all night long. We pour ourselves a drink, and tweet before we think."

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The  inside of  the  Wonka's Chocolate factory, represented in the imaginative sets designed by MARK THOMPSON, who also designed the costumes, is magical to look at and magical in its effect because, during the tour, reveals to Wonka, the real characters of the children.

The story of the musical is based on the novel Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory by ROALD DAHL (1964) but has a new book by DAVID GREIG. The music is by MARC SHAIMAN and the lyrics by SCOTT WITTMAN and MARC SHAIMAN, The musical, is mostly sang by the actors. The Genre of the music includes Rock, Cha Cha, Ballads, and Tangos among others. The music in the musical also includes some  LESLIE BRICUSSE's and ANTHONY NEWLEY's songs from the WILLY WONKA and the Chocolate Factory motion picture.

"Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," is for the young at heart. Edible milk chocolate waterfalls, and industrial size sugar coated creations are for every one who enjoys a story, sprinkled with grains of philosophy.  The performances of all the actors are realistic, And while each one of the actors sang well and gave us their best performances on that night. The most applauded performance was the one given by the Oompa Loompa minions. (puppets with people's faces manipulated by puppeteers, who represent the workers who make the fudge at the factory) Each one of their numbers, which included some latin dances. Stopped the show.

Watching a story where evil actions are punished and  good actions rewarded may also be  inspirational to the dreamers among us, who still believe in Magic.

ROALD DAHL'S CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY will play at the SHN GOLDEN GATE THEATRE 1 Taylor Street in San Francisco from now through May 12, 2019. For tickets you can go online to or call 888-746-1799.



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