Kindness goes a long way – along with self-awareness. A twist of benevolence is also not a bad thing, especially when used in moderation. These are just some of the meanings behind the modernized Broadway touring production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
A different kind of energy – almost chaotic at times – took to the stage, with so many characters bringing to life what some would call a childhood favorite. The musical is at Austin’s Bass Concert Hall now through Sunday, March 27.
Much like the 1971 production and the 2005 re-make, we learn about the young Charlie Bucket, who comes from modest beginnings and is on a search to find one of five golden tickets to visit the soon to be re-opened Willy Wonka factory.
Charlie finds his ticket. However, what’s most striking to me is that he found it after questionably being treated poorly by a candy shop owner, who has him sweep floors. Even though Charlie doesn’t appear to be employed by this person, the shop owner (who may be Willy Wonka undercover) reminds him to “put more strength into” the task. But in true good karma, Charlie finds a dollar bill as he finishes sweeping, which he also tries to return. Fast-forward and minutes later the dollar bill is used to buy a Wonka bar which has Charlie’s golden ticket inside.
One of the musical’s unique aspects is it seems to play on several different eras of time. My theatre companion and I both noticed each character appears to be from a different decade. In fact, one reference is notably made, when Willy Wonka (Cody Garcia) claims that one of the parents appears to be “straight from the 1950s.”
Despite the variance of the different time periods, along with the prevalence of modern-day iPads and iPhones on the set, the overall message throughout the classic Roald Dahl tale remains the same. In the end, Charlie is rewarded for his “good, honest and kind” behavior, which he exhibits even when no one is watching.
The audience is reminded that you can “make something out of nothing” and the importance of having an imagination and being creative, when possible. I also noticed a theme of family, as Charlie asks for his loved ones at the very end.
In our society today, these familial and relationship values are hopefully more important than ever, especially after 2+ years of an unexpected pandemic. Perhaps an even greater takeaway is – it’s not necessarily where you are at right now, but where you are going. Circumstances can change drastically and quickly, and though things might seem impossible within these individual moments, with the right attitude, perseverance, and a little bit of hope – anything is possible. You never know what might happen.
Spectacular costumes in bold colors with amazing effects really stood out on stage, along with playful choreography and bright vocals. This musical is one of the most fun and energetic I have seen at Bass Concert Hall, and it’s a great choice for all ages.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory runs through Sunday, March 27 in Austin. The show also stops in McAllen, TX for a one-night show on March 29. Then, on April 18, the production will be in Orange, TX.
Ticket prices at Bass Concert Hall start at $30 and can be purchased online.
Cover photo courtesy Jeremy Daniel
Britni Rachal lives in Austin, Texas. She is a freelance journalist, full-time marketer, and a Realtor®. In addition to writing, Rachal enjoys traveling, event planning, fashion, fitness and serving the Austin community.