Open run

Charlie and The Chocolate Factory

Members say: Entertaining, Funny, Delightful, Disappointing, Clever
50 reviews
577 reviews

Two-time Tony winner Christian Borle stars as magical candy master Willy Wonka in the new Broadway musical adaptation of Roald Dahl's beloved children's book. 

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Willy Wonka, world famous inventor of the Everlasting Gobstopper, has just made an astonishing announcement. His marvelous—and mysterious—factory is opening its gates to a lucky few. It’s a world of pure imagination. Directed by three-time Tony-winning director Jack O'Brien, with new tunes by Tony-winning songwriters Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman of 'Hairspray' fame alongside classic songs from the 1971 movie.


Cast & Creatives (51)

Reviews (627)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
Avg Score

The New York Times

"This big but tentative show doesn’t burst with flavor of any kind, not during its exposition-crammed first act. Only in its second half does the show acquire a distinct taste and it isn’t confectionary...The idea of macabre punishment seems to have acted as a stimulant on the creative faculties of everyone involved as the show turns increasingly surreal...Most gratifying is the transformation of Borle...Willy switches into dissing diva mode with a skip in his step and a fork in his tongue." Full Review


"Incorporating songs from the film, it seems to present itself as earnest entertainment for children and nostalgic adults. Grieg's caustic book and Shaiman and Wittman's pastiche score, on the other hand, feels like a beast with much sharper talons...The show gets considerably better in the second act, when it becomes the Christian Borle show. He exudes a manic genius that fits the eccentric candy industrialist...He can't save everything though...A musical that doesn't know what it wants to be." Full Review


"The uncanny darkness of Dahl’s imagination has been lightened and brightened in helmer Jack O’Brien’s mechanized production...While visually droll, too many of the gimmicks distract from the story and encourage the cartoon treatment of characters as caricatures. Happily, the character of Charlie Bucket escapes this mishandling...Ryan Foust was the best thing in the show...As played by Borle, Willy Wonka's much too charming and lacks the aura of stranger-danger." Full Review

Time Out New York

"Joyless, shapeless and grating...a stale Necco wafer of a musical...O’Brien directs this dull, clunky adaptation of the book and movie with none of the wit of the former nor the dreamy wonder of the latter. Maybe kids will enjoy the gaudy design and veneer of sassy satire, but when you bite down, there’s only empty shell. Younger audiences can cheer, but adults are bound to conclude that 'Charlie' is like what happens with an Everlasting Gobstopper: lots of sucking." Full Review

New York Magazine / Vulture

"A show like 'Charlie' ought to have been a treat...So why did the thing turn into a hideous, cheap-looking, melted Whitman’s sampler? The glib answer is: too many cooks...The longer answer begins with Dahl. On the page, 'Charlie' immediately reveals itself as a bad candidate for stage musicalization...I doubt this musical would have proved at all likable even if an apt style and thrilling visuals had been found for it. The story is too maudlin and, at the same time, too angry." Full Review

New York Theater

“The overall effect manages to be too obvious and yet too bland...I have nothing especially negative to say about most of the performances, including Borle’s, although nothing especially positive to say about the actors portraying the four insufferable children who won the sought-after golden tickets…Their ends are clearly meant to be clever, but don’t sparkle in the execution…I suspect there are enough moments to make the show at least intermittently enjoyable for adult chaperones.” Full Review

Theater Life

“Neither relevant nor even consistently entertaining, but it does provide the occasional guilty-pleasure shot of sweetness...Unfortunately these are few and far between…This uneven kiddie show takes us on a roller-coaster ride with too many flat stretches…The old tunes remain sources of delight as do a handful of the newer ones. But David Greig’s book misses the strong narrative drive of the original and the cinema versions.” Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"If it is hardly the best musical on Broadway, it is surely the most improved...The book suffers from the fact that it takes an entire act to get to the chocolate factory...The second act is, quite possibly, the most macabre children's entertainment ever...If 'Charlie' isn't likely to entertain adults looking for a sophisticated Broadway musical, it is probably just the thing for parents looking to take the kids to a show. They aren't likely to notice its less-than-seamless assembly." Full Review

Broadway Blog

“Although not a fan of Dahl's high-calorie story even I found some of it satisfying and delicious…While no show could compete with Hollywood's special effects, there's plenty of cleverness displayed in the gimmicky scenery…and ingenious staging. The child-unfriendly ways that punish the plot's entitled brats are a hoot, and even queasy stomachs will likely ingest such comic images as people bursting into purple goop or dismembered by squirrels.” Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"The perversely charmless new musical will have little to offer grown-up audiences. Kids might find more to enjoy in this frantic Frankenstein's monster of a show, but that doesn't make it less of a misfire...This choc-atrocity has got to rank as one of the most aesthetically off-putting family musicals in memory...Between O'Brien's hyperactive direction and Thompson's biliously colorful designs, there's little to love...Spare yourself the empty calories." Full Review

AM New York

"Disastrous and distasteful...An ultra-aggressive, play-it-up silliness pervades every aspect of the show, turning what is a tender and fanciful story into a loud and brash frenzy...There is a desperate quality to Borle’s upbeat performance. He pushes too hard, resorting to increasingly larger antics in an attempt to win over the crowd...The new songs by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman are terrible." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"It's just bad: plain, simple, and totally. Although, to be fair, it does keep one-upping itself—this is not a musical that's willing to settle for second-worst...Should have been a slam-dunk property...This show rebukes all of that potential, as well as stamping out the material's warmth and charm...As for Shaiman and Wittman's score, it's shallow and tacky, by leagues the pair's weakest work for Broadway...A massive, melty mess." Full Review

The Huffington Post

“There’s enough on-stage pizzazz to keep the pre-teens charged and cheering...I have to report that the sweets dispensed here have no appeal for me...The primary problem is with Greig’s prolific book, which, among other things, is all over the place...In regards to humor, of which ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ is totally devoid: book writer Greig is unable to land a single joke...Given the wafer-thin meager material, the cast members are pretty much left to fend for themselves.” Full Review

Times Square Chronicles

"The set by Mark Thompson doesn’t wow, the music by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman misses the mark...I am a huge Christian Borle fan and, though it pains me to say it, Borle, in wonderful voice, is not the Willy Wonka from the book or the movies. If you are going to re-invent a film then it should be better live than on celluloid...O’Brien’s direction is satisfactory. Joshua Bergasse’s choreography is frantic...A watchable, but mediocre musical." Full Review

New York Daily News

"The candy man can’t. 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' is a middle-of-the-road musical with a pale score, a flavorless book and a dearth of eye candy that could have at least made it a spectacle...Heading a large, game and polished cast, Christian Borle has panache as Wonka. He plays the chocolate maker as snarky, not all that sinister...But this Ooma Loompa Doom-Pa-Dee Do-Over still needs work." Full Review


"It’s goofy, loud and imaginative—superlatively so...It’s not as theatrically inventive as 'Matilda,' and it probably won’t share that show’s canny ability to appeal to adults as well as kids...The supporting cast does well by the Shaiman and Wittman numbers, which fill out the characters with considerable humor...The moments of pleasure for this adult viewer were decidedly scattershot...Grown-ups will serve their purpose as ticket buyers, and their tykes will get the sugar rush." Full Review

Chicago Tribune

"A deeply disappointing musical...You do get flashes of Dahl's brand of caustic fun. For a few seconds. They're gone with the snap of a light cue or a bit of a sugar-free trick...It's emblematic of how a musical with unlimited imaginative potential never fully decided whether this was to be a retro experience or a cultural probing of the moment. Either one could have worked. But not without that moment when a world of sugar unfolds, and a boy's aching heart almost stops." Full Review

Theater In The Now

"This musical confection spins a flavor that can only be described as modern...If you're looking to throw your cares away and just have fun, there's nothing more tantalizing...But if a well-structured, smartly planned musical is what you seek, this show swings for the fences and strikes out often...The new music is vibrant, modern, and earworm-worthy...The libretto was overstuffed...This show was all about the visuals, treading the fine line of homage and originality." Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

"This musical is as sweet and charming as can be, with a gleefully dose of wickedness that isn’t too dark or deadly...The production whistles along quite competently hitting all the right notes of wonder, sweetness, and more importantly, devilishness when the recipe starts feeling a bit too sweet...I can’t say this musical is a revelation in any way, and at times the story lacked a strong drive forward...I was never bored, but I can’t say I was fully engaged with my heart or my soul." Full Review


"For a musical about the wonder of pure imagination, 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' is bizarrely lacking in it...It’s almost painful to watch Borle, a master of endearing virtuosity, work so hard to sell charm that simply isn’t in the script, the music and too much of the staging...The show is saccharine and soporific. David Greig’s book feels forced, and the intentionally nasty bits about fat Bavarian children, Russian megalomaniacs, etc., feel more gratuitous than satirical." Full Review

The Wrap

"I’ve never witnessed such a second-act reversal of fortune...Only in retrospective can you see glimmers of hope in the musical’s desultory first half. Just one song hits the mark...What’s great about Act 2 is that...Borle as Wonka occupies center stage and never lets go...He makes us forget about both Johnny Depp and Gene Wilder. Of course, it’s not all Borle. His Wonka material is good. So, too, are the staging of the multiple deaths by candy overload." Full Review


"More often than it should, 'Charlie' fails children when trying to speak to adults, and vice versa...An inability to hit the right tone and sustain it is a serious problem...The music is a combination of other songs from the film and mostly bland new work by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman...For all its attempts to recreate the delight of Roald Dahl’s story, it left me with something of a toothache." Full Review

Front Row Center

"This adaptation, with just a few blips, rises to the occasion...Act I at moments lacks vitality, as if the muted colors have at times muted the action. Act II fares better, with dazzling color and a faster pace...A marvel of theatricality, with a great voice and a gift for physical comedy, Borle gives an electric performance of unflagging energy...O’Brien has directed an eccentric, entertaining, and at times dazzling production of a timeless story audiences will take to heart." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"Much has gone awry with the weird humor and horror that now becomes a fudged version of itself...The standouts are the Oompa Loompas...Although I know Borle as a top-notch actor, he fails to impress in this misbegotten role...Who’s at fault? Greig’s book? O’Brien’s interpretation? Perhaps more pure imagination would have served this family musical better. But, instead, we are left with a bittersweet taste—this could have been more." Full Review

The Wall Street Journal

“The new songs are fast-moving genre pieces that mostly go down without hiccups. O’Brien’s direction never lets the pace slacken, even if indigestion might result...If your tastes in candy and drama differ from mine, there is enough here at least to provide some amusement. And it is a legitimate treat to see how Wonka’s small-sized servants, the Oompa Loompas, make their appearance...The musical’s clotted and confused message left me longing for a steaming bowl of cabbage surprise." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
Avg Score

Charming, Fun

See it if you want something whimsical and fun, love Christian Borle (who doesnt?!), and/or love the movie/books. Charming, magical effects.

Don't see it if you dislike adults playing children and/or audiences full of children.

Entertaining, Fluffy, Clever staging, Borle!

See it if You have kids. It's a light and easy version of the story. Understated but clever staging. Weak music, but Borle is marvelous!

Don't see it if You expect a rehash of both movies or want to be dazzled. It's OK... entertaining with some strong moments, but some meh as well,

Funny, Delightful, Entertaining

See it if An excellent choice for a seven year old who has read the book...and her grandmother.

Don't see it if The child you are bringing has a short attention span.

Ambitious, Disappointing

See it if you love Christian Borle, who I adore in everything. Take children. Not for adults alone.

Don't see it if you want to be entertained. The show doesn't work.

Funny, Slow, Entertaining

See it if you are a fan of the book and want to see it brought to life. The show is very funny but dark as most Roald Dahl books are.

Don't see it if child cruelty is too disturbing for you. Many of the golden ticket winners do not have a happy fate.

Indulgent, Disappointing, Excruciating, Insipid, Offensive

See it if someone's forcing you to by gunpoint.

Don't see it if you can do literally anything else.

Clever, Great acting, Quirky, Entertaining, Family friendly

See it if Borle and Faust shine as Wonka and Charlie in this cute, well acted, family-friendly fare. Act 2 was better than the first.

Don't see it if You expect typical Broadway sets. These are mediocre at best. I did however, enjoy the production more than I'd expected.

Great acting, Disappointing, Overrated, Hilarious, Entertaining

See it if you're looking for a family show. Christian Borle, Jackie Hoffman, Emily Padgett are particular standouts. The show is cute but lackluster.

Don't see it if you're looking for a big Broadway musical. Much of the show relies on imagination, not set. Songs are not bad, but not memorable either.

Funny, Delightful, Quirky, Disappointing

See it if you need a family-friendly show for kids. If you're a fan of the book or either movie, this show delivers parts of all of them.

Don't see it if you have really high expectations for what this show could be. I'll admit some parts (chocolate room) were very disappointing for myself.

Clever, Dizzying, Edgy, Disappointing, Fluffy

See it if you are a fan of the book on which the play is based and/or the movies the book inspired.

Don't see it if you'd prefer not to see what amounts to a pretty creepy story with some violent (yet played for laughs) fates for children.

Funny, Delightful, Great acting, Quirky, Great singing

See it if you enjoyed any of the previous iterations of the story, love musicals about family and self realization & can appreciate Dahl's weirdness.

Don't see it if you lack imagination or dislike quirky characters/situations.

Also The cast (especially Foust and Borle) did an amazing job. I thoroughly... Read more Read less

Cute, Sweet, Family friendly, Endearing, Light and fluffy

See it if You want to see a nicely produced, fun, easy, family musical. It is a solid if unspectacular take on the story. Christian Borle is great.

Don't see it if You are not willing to appreciate a version of Willy Wonka that is different from the movie or if you are expecting massive spectacle.

Delightful, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if You're a fan of the movie or book. It was fantastic. Very creative. Borle (Wonka) did not disappoint.

Don't see it if Some inappropriate jokes but I don't know if kids would even understand them

Also Disappointed in the score this Musical has received. If you're looking... Read more Read less

Entertaining, Fun, Good for kids except for certain aspect described in review., Excellent sets and lighting

See it if You love the book and/or movie of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I enjoyed it. Christian Borle was great. Especially in second act.

Don't see it if You are concerned that the demise of four of the five children in the story might upset your own youngsters. Could be frightening for some.

Also The special effects, costumes and lighting tricks were fantastic and r... Read more Read less

Entertaining, Cute

See it if You want to take your children to theater.

Don't see it if You are an enthusiastic theater nerd.

Also Some scenes are but too violent for small children (be warned), but ov... Read more Read less

Entertaining, Uneven, Good performances, Better than expected, Disappointing set

See it if you're a fan of Borle or Hoffman. If you can get a discount ticket. If you like dark humor--badly behaved kids get what they deserve.

Don't see it if you can't get a cheap ticket. Much better shows out there for the money. Still, it was better than the reviews led me to believe.

Also I got a discount ticket before the reviews came out. I went in expecti... Read more Read less

Enchanting, Great acting, Disappointing, Slow, Great staging

See it if you are a fan of the very talented Christian Borle and Jackie Hoffman & a fine score by Shaiman & Wittman; love the Roald Dahl story.

Don't see it if you're expecting the Wilder movie on stage; magic from the get-go (It's a slow starter until Borle's Wonka really gets going in Act II.)

Quirky, Disappointing, Slow, Macabre, Thank goodness for christian borle

See it if you enjoy bright lights, colorful sets, and seeing through the eyes of the young children in the audience. Christian Borle is always great.

Don't see it if Where's the magic? Where's the joy? Though darkly themed, I was expecting the show to be magical. Instead, it just seemed mean and slow.

Delightful, Great acting, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if Christian Borle!!!!!!! He absolutely STEALS the show, are a fan of the original story with a bit more graphic visuals of the childrens demis

Don't see it if You arent a fan of the original story and dont like shows with undetermined child death

Boring, Disappointing, Lackluster, Missed opportunities, Lots of talent on stage, but not the material to showcase it

See it if you are looking for something to bring young kids to and have already seen all the other kid-friendly Broadway shows.

Don't see it if you are a fan of the movie and want to feel that sense of nostalgia--this show will not deliver that. Had potential to be so much better.

Also First, some good things...the costumes were incredible. Christian Borl... Read more Read less

Dizzying, Banal, Confusing, Disappointing, Slow

See it if you're curious or just want to see Christian Borle and Jackie Hoffman on stage.

Don't see it if you expect any sort of pure imagination because this production completely lacks in that department. It also lacks consistency.

Funny, Delightful, Entertaining, Great singing

See it if You like the story, are a Christian Borle fan, or want to bring children to a fun show

Don't see it if You don't show which have audiences with a lot of children, or don't like musicals.

Delightful, Quirky, Entertaining, Playful

See it if you love Christian Borle and want to see a feel-good Broadway music. Borle plays a fantastic Willy Wonka. You'll smile the whole time.

Don't see it if you are Willy Wonka purist or if you're hoping for the musical to feel like the movie. The staging is not as spectacular as one would hope.

Disappointing, Overrated, Slow, Great singing

See it if you have children and would like them to be entertained enough for a few hours at the theater.

Don't see it if you are expecting any of the edginess or fantastical sets of the movies. For such a "colorful" past, this show reads as dull.

Entertaining, Fun, Great singing

See it if you want a world of pure imagination

Don't see it if you are looking for something complex