Musical Will Have Played 332 Performances Upon Closing
At the end of this week, on Sunday, January 14, 2018, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory will play its final performance of the Broadway debut run, which began previews on March 28, 2017, ahead of its opening night on April 23, 2017. Based on the novel by Roald Dahl, the show has a book by David Greig, with music by Marc Shaiman, and lyrics by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman (the duo behind Catch Me if You Can, Hairspray, and Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me). The show was directed by Jack O’Brien (The Front Page, It’s Only a Play, Macbeth), with choreography by Joshua Bergasse (Gigi, On the Town, Hairspray), and musical direction by Nicholas Skilbeck. In the tremendous role of Willy Wonka was Christian Borle (two-time Tony Award winning actor for Something Rotten! and Peter and the Starcatcher). The show came to Broadway following a debut in London’s West End helmed by director Sam Mendes, with the role of Willy Wonka played by Douglas Hodge. In addition to Christian Borle, the Broadway cast included three rotating young actors playing Charlie Bucket (Jake Ryan Flynn, Ryan Foust, and Ryan Sell), as well as Trista Dollison (A Bronx Tale the Musical, The Lion King) as Violet Beauregarde, F. Michael Haynie (Holler if Ya Hear Me, Wicked) as Augustus Gloop, Emma Pfaeffle (Finding Neverland) as Veruca Salt, and Michael Wartella (Tuck Everlasting, Wicked) as Mike Teavee. The parents were played by Alan H. Green, Kathy Fitzgerald, Ben Crawford, and Jackie Hoffman, and Charlie’s Grandpa Joe was played by John Rubenstein.
Despite the strong brand recognition of the title Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the critics were generally quite harsh in their reviews of this musical upon opening night. For instance, Ben Brantley from The New York Times called it “big but tentative,” and mentioned how it is crammed with exposition. David Cote from Time Out New York called the musical joyless, grating, and shapeless, and Robert Kahn from NBC New York relished only in watching the characters die in barbarous ways. Furthermore, Chris Jones from the Chicago Tribune stated that there was almost no sweetness to be found in this candy-themed musical. Despite these reviews, the brand recognition did help in the box office department. Many tourists coming to New York in the many months following opening night might have been more interested in pleasing their children’s shrieks for the recognizable title than in perusing the reviews to see if the show was declared a Critic’s Pick. As such, the box office remained fairly strong throughout the run. While it never reached the heights of such long-running hits as Aladdin, The Lion King, Hamilton, or The Book of Mormon, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory did have many impressive weeks at the box office. Over the course of the run, including all reported weeks which is all but this final week, the average percentage reached of gross potential for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was 75.45%, and the average paid admission was $99.59. The show brought in over $42 million throughout the run, but due to high running costs, this did not translate to the show’s recouping its initial capitalization. While in London, the show also received mixed reviews, it somehow managed to hold on for a strong four-year run. Nevertheless, there are still some revenue streams on the horizon, as a U.S. national tour will embark starting in September 2018. In addition, there will be international tours including one in Australia in 2018, and one in the United Kingdom in 2019. Therefore, there is much more Charlie to enjoy for audiences all around the world.
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