Musical Version of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" Eyes West End Premiere; Sam Mendes May Direct

A long-gestating musical version of Roald Dahl's "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" is eyeing a West End premiere for 2011, under the aegis of Neal Street Productions, led by producer Caro Newling and director Sam Mendes, with the latter now rumored to be attached as director as well.

Sam Mendes
Sam Mendes (Photo by Aubrey Reuben)

Dahl's story, first published in 1964, revolves around Charlie Bucket, a nice boy from a poor family, who wins a day-long tour to visit a famous chocolate factory and receive a lifetime supply of chocolate, after he finds one of five "golden tickets" hidden in wrappers of candy bars produced by the factory, presided over by its eccentric owner Willy Wonka.

Best known for two film adaptations – first in 1971, where Willy Wonka was played by Gene Wilder, and then in 2005, when Johnny Depp played him for director Tim Burton – the musical features a new score from Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, the Tony-winning team behind Hairspray, who are also currently steering their adaptation of another film, "Catch Me If You Can," to Broadway after an out-of-town try-out in 2009 in Seattle. The book is by prolific British playwright David Greig.

According to unconfirmed media reports, the musical version of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" is aiming to open in time for the 2011 holiday season in London, with a Broadway stand to follow.