Bringing a well-loved story to the Broadway stage is risky. Whether it’s adapting a book or film to a live musical, it can be a challenge to stay true to the original while also creating a new vision to the story.
Well, one of this season’s highly anticipated new musicals “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” is aiming to do just that. And it’s coming to Baltimore soon.
We can’t deny the story has staying power — from the original book written by Roald Dahl in 1964 to the 1971 film starring the late Gene Wilder to the 2005 film starring Johnny Depp. Inevitably, it became a play and made its way to the big stage on London’s West End in 2013 and finally opened on Broadway in April 2017.
Enter choreographer Joshua Bergasse, who is best known for his work in Broadway plays such as “On The Town,” “Astaire” and “Gigi.” Offstage, you have probably seen his skills on shows such as “Smash,” “So You Think You Can Dance” and “Sinatra: A Voice for a Century,” which aired on PBS.
Naturally audiences can expect big, Broadway-style numbers in “Charlie.” But audiences should also be ready to take in some original and fresh dance sequences, Bergasse says.
In this play, “there are so many different styles of dance,” he says. “Each time you meet one of the golden ticket winners, they come from a different part of the world. So, what we did was try to make a different style of dance that reflected where they came from.”
Augustus Gloop comes from Bavaria, Germany, Bergasse explains, so he decided to choreograph a Bavarian folk dance performed comically. Veruca Salt is described as a ballerina from Russia, so her number consists of classical ballet (Spoiler: She even has her own “Nutcracker” sequence in the second act.).
There is also a little contemporary American flair thrown into the mix.
“The character Violet, she comes from California, so the music is kind of R&B and fun pop,” Bergasse says.
What about the Oompa Loompas? “The choreography, it’s not like anything else,” he says. “I think they (the audience) is going to be very surprised and excited when they make their appearance.”
What Bergasse is most excited about is for audiences to experience a new and improved version of the show, tweaking what was done in New York.
“It’s sort of like the 2.0 version and we’re really happy and excited about it,” he says.
The show begins at the Hippodrome on Jan.21. france-merrickpac.com