Lexington Theater Stages ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ a Little Differently

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Whether from reading the original Roald Dahl novel or one of the films, it’s fair to bet that you know the story of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” 

This week, Lexington’s Village Square Theatre opens their production of the stage play of the same name, featuring a cast of children and adults in their theater program — co-directed by T.J. Daley and Merritt Vann, and produced by Ashley Vann. 

“Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” follows a movie version fairly closely, but it’s not necessarily the one you might guess, according to co-director Daley.

“It actually may be closer to the more recent version starring Johnny Depp,” Daley said. “It’s the same story, of course.” 

That story, if anyone needs a refresher, follows Charlie, a young lad who finds a Golden Ticket that earns him a tour of the Wonka chocolate factory led by the eccentric Willy Wonka himself. The twists and turns experienced are part of the silly and sometimes darkly humorous fun. Iconic characters including Veruca Salt, Augustus Gloop, Violet Beauregarde and more are in on the action, too. 

This is the stage play version, also, not the musical with a slightly different title that Village Square put on in a previous season.

“We all remember the Gene Wilder movie version from when we were kids,” Daley said, “We’ll have a little different twist on it because our Willy is played by a female actress as Miss Willy Wonka.” 

The realities of accommodating a community theater group with a production like this mean that more than a few twists and liberties are taken — for good reason.

“We double casted the show with the kids who are in acting roles,” Daley said. “Lexington has so many great child actors that we work with, it was a way to get everyone we could involved. So the cast will look a little different depending on which show you see — one Charlie is male, and the other is female, for example.” 

The show is part of the full theater season, not a “Junior” production, but it is kid-heavy on the actors involved simply due to the casting needs.

“You pretty much have to cast children in most of these roles, including the Oompa Loompas, who need to be a certain size, of course,” Daley explained. 

The other difficult part of the production, according to the director, was the amount of set design needed.

“This is a very set-heavy show. You have the factory, the machines, the TV room, the elevator, all those spaces the scenes you know happened in,” Daley said. “We’re not the largest theater in terms of space, so it gets complicated quickly.”

Don’t assume this is strictly a nostalgia trip for the baby boomers who treasure the book and original movie, however. Daley sees it as serving two different audiences.

“The parents will remember and have nostalgia for the Gene Wilder movie, which to me hearkens back to a simpler time in children’s stories and entertainment,” he said. “Younger kids may know the Johnny Depp version more, and even if they don’t, they’ll enjoy the silliness of the story and the characters.” 




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