The new Broadway musical Charlie and the Chocolate Factory opened April 23 at Broadway’s Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. Playbill met the cast and creative team live on the opening-night purple carpet at Pier Sixty in New York City to talk about the process of rebooting the musical (a different version ran in London’s West End) and stepping into the world of Willy Wonka’s sweet genius.
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The night kicked off with Tony-nominated choreographer Joshua Bergasse revealing his inspiration for the dance in the show and creating the illusion of the Oompa Loompas. Designer Mark Thompson (who transferred with the London production) spoke about his re-envisioned Charlie for Broadway and why he chose a more minimalist approach. Tony-winning director Jack O’Brien shared what he looked for in the audition room when casting an ensemble that also needed to be able to cover multiple principal roles, plus the key to collaborating with star Christian Borle.
Playbill greeted Ben Crawford, who plays Mr. Salt; Kathy Fitzgerald and F. Michael Hayne, who play the Gloops; Jackie Hoffman, who plays Mrs. Teavee; Alan H. Green, who plays Mr. Beauregarde; the three Charlies (Jake Ryan Flynn, Ryan Foust, Ryan Sell); Emma Pfaeffle, who plays Veruca Salt; ensemblist Stephen Carrasco; Stephanie Gibson, who plays news reporter Cherry Sundae; Trista Dollison, who plays Violet Beauregarde; and Michael Wartella, who plays Mike Teavee. Watch the live-stream video above to hear how their characters onstage are different from the film version, their advice for aspiring actors, and the magical technology behind some of the illusions seen onstage.
Go Inside the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Opening Night on Broadway
Of course, Playbill couldn’t end the night without speaking to the master chocolatier, Christian Borle. Prior to the evening, he described his Wonka as inspired by Bugs Bunny, but only on Playbill’s live stream did he reveal why. “I figured Willy Wonka is somebody who’s been alone for the past 40 years with only chocolate and Oompa Loompas and probably watches a lot of television and movie so he’s inspired by Old Hollywood and particularly Bugs Bunny,” said Borle. “He’s not been around people for a long time, so he’s a little giddy and a little over the top.”
For all the comedy he brings to the stage, Borle shared that his happiest song to sing in the show is a quiet one. “The last song in the show, ‘The View From Here.’ After all of the theatricality and all of the antics, it’s so nice to be standing in the elevator with one of those sweet, gentle, loving boys and singing that song,” he said. “It’s a great way to end the night.”