CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY at the Théâtre Du Gymnase

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A few weeks after the death of the great Leslie Bricusse, Charlie and the chocolate factory is finally opening a Théâtre du Gymnase in Paris after multiple postponements due to the Covid crisis. It is a beautiful tribute to the composer of The golden finger and numerous musicals on stage and in theaters, although only two songs he wrote for the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory with Gene Wilder, the touching ballad “Pure Imagination” and Sammy Davis Jr.’s hit “The Candy Man”. These songs stand out from the new score by Marc Shaiman, composer of Hair spray, Catch Me If You Can, and the first season of TV Smash, clearly not his best job despite the song changes from London productions to Broadway productions.

Despite mixed reviews, the original London production, directed by Sam Mendes, broke box office records at the Drury Lane Theater in 2013, lasting three years and seven months. Finally arrived on Broadway in 2017 with a new staging by Jack O’Brian and a choreography by Josh Bergasse, Charlie fared less well on the other side of the pond and closed after just nine months, despite a great Christian Borle as Willy Wonka. Following a tour of the United States, an Australian version was produced in January 2019, followed by the first two non-English productions in Milan and Norway in November 2019. This French adaptation is the third foreign version, ending up being more of a musical. for children, as is too often the case in Paris. Unlike the original London production, the characters of Augustus Gloop, Violet Beauregarde and Veruca Salt are played by children, just like Charlie, played by Gaspard Estève, who despite some vocal abilities is not always focused on his character when ‘he does not speak. .

BWW Review: CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY at the Théâtre Du GymnaseSeen in La Cages aux Folles at the Mogador Theater in 1999 and Spamalot at the Théâtre Comédia in 2010 and trained at Cours Florent, Arnaud Denissel delivers a beautiful interpretation of Willy Wonka, largely inspired by Johnny Depp in the remake of Tim Burton’s film. Jean-Pierre Raphaël Duclos makes a convincing Papy Joe, and Marlène Conan, veteran of musical theater in Paris (Roxie in Chicago, Anne in The Cage aux folles, Meg in The Phantom of the Opera, Ellie in Showboat, and Marie Robert in Sister act) is sadly underutilized as Charlie’s mother. Among the children, Antoine Degout stands out as Mike Teavee, the rock n ‘roll kid, and, in the middle of the secondary character, Gregory Amsis (Piaf, I like, Shrek, The full Monty) is fun as Jerry Jubilee.

All in all, the distribution is laborious, doubling the set in the production numbers of the television choreographer Cécile Chaduteau, whose debut in musical comedy is quite satisfactory, even if some numbers are sometimes marred by the costumes of Sylvain Rigault (du Dreamer’s Workshop). The Oompa Loompas’ costumes were so bulky they obscured the dance, and Veruca Salt’s worn dress had visible tears. Some of Emmanuelle Favre’s scenographies can sometimes be awkward, especially Charlie’s house. However, the lighting by Jacques Rouveyrollis and Jessica Duclos and the video projection by Jérôme Ledoux are quite effective.

BWW Review: CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY at the Théâtre Du GymnaseAs in most French musicals, apart from those of Mogador, Châtelet and Marigny, the sound is slightly over-amplified, and producer turned director / adapter Philippe Hersen clearly did a better job of adapting and directing. Lightning dance, also at the Théâtre du Gymnase in 2017 (whose special opening effect of a disappearance of the curtain is repeated here) and especially in his very entertaining Priscilla, queen of the desert at the Casino de Paris in 2018. Nonetheless, in the overcrowded realm of children’s musicals every fall in Paris, it’s good to have a true musical with a West End and Broadway pedigree, as evidenced by the original artwork of the attach ! Yet in the overcrowded realm of children’s musicals every fall in Paris, it’s good to have a true musical with a West End and Broadway pedigree, as evidenced by the original artwork on the poster! Charlie and the chocolate factory, As Sister act, pretty woman and many other filmploxtation musicals, falls into a category we might call McMusicals, delivering what movie fans would expect, nothing less but certainly never anything more, as evidenced here by his heavy debut act and too exposed, which his Broadway production apparently failed to repair; Despite everything, this long-awaited Charlie and Chocolate Factory at the Théâtre du Gymnase is still at the top of the family musical entertainment basket this coming back to Paris.

Watch the trailer.


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