The Golden Ticket is an English-language opera by Peter Ash (music) and Donald Sturrock (libretto) based on the novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factorynote According to the CD liner notes, it originally shared its title with the novel but was changed after a 2001 concert staging in England due to confusion on the part of audiences that thought it was a Screen-to-Stage Adaptation of the 1971 film musical. It was first produced in full in 2010 by the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, and the subsequent 2012 Atlanta Opera production was recorded and released on CD. The story is very much the familiar one, albeit with several supporting characters eliminated and a few twists (particularly in regard to the Spoiled Brat Veruca Salt).See also the Charlie and the Chocolate Factorycharacter sheet.
Adaptational Villainy: Veruca Salt and her father agree to secretly photograph/film the top secret factory at the request of a television reporter, which makes them spies. Notably, while the novel and all other adaptations have them be the third group eliminated from the tour, here they're the last to go.
Adaptation Explanation Extrication: Unlike in the novel and other adaptations, there's no mention of why Willy Wonka became a recluse and closed his factory to outsiders in the first place — he did it to stop other candymakers from sending in spies to steal his work. This isn't a huge loss, but it is significant, especially since the Adaptational Villainy hinges on the now-secret nature of the place. Also, the Oompa-Loompas are just there, with not even a quick explanation as to what they are (a tribe of little people from a faraway land) or how they came to work in his factory.
Adapted Out: Charlie's parents, and one parent each for the four brats.
All There in the Script: The libretto reveals that the three kids who accidentally knock down Charlie on their way out of the sweetshop and later express their jealously over not finding Golden Tickets are named Miranda Grope, Marvin Prune, and Herpes Trout. Grope and Prune were children cut from the novel in early drafts (the former would have joined Augustus in the chocolate river, the latter was conceited), and Herpes Trout was Mike Teavee's original name.
Arc Words: "Lucky" and "unlucky". Charlie thinks he's terminally unlucky (living in poverty as he is and thus unable to find a Golden Ticket) but Grandpa Joe believes the opposite about himself (he has a home and a loving family after all) and later reminds Charlie to "be lucky!" when they have to split up in the factory. Even Mr. Salt worries "Maybe the odds are turning against me?" when his efforts to find a Golden Ticket for his daughter look doomed to failure. As for Mr. Know the sweetshop owner, he believes that a person makes their own luck...
Badass Baritone: Willy Wonka is a bass-baritone! This is an unusual adaptational choice — the novel describes his voice as "high and flutey" and other musicalizations have him be a tenor.
Bazaar of the Bizarre: Rather than the Nut Room of the novel, Wonka's walnut-sorting squirrels live in this, and come complete with Turkish-styled costumes and music. (There's an in-story justification — the nuts are used in Turkish delight.) Wonka even introduces the setting with "Welcome to my bizarre bazaar!"
Big Entrance: Rather than coming through the gates of his factory to greet his guests, Willy Wonka arrives via a hot air balloon. (The gates opening and his leading the guests through them serves as the big finish of the first act.)
Breaking the Fourth Wall: The Oompa-Loompas do this a few times in their scene-ending songs: "But don't, dear audience, be alarmed..."
But He Sounds Handsome: Inverted when Mr. Know says, after Charlie tells him that he didn't find a Golden Ticket and won't be able to meet Willy Wonka, "And anyway, Wonka's bonkers!...He's a silly and strange old man!/Who wants to meet him?"
Creative Sterility: The four bratty kids are all afflicted by this. As they reflect on their fates in the finale: "We didn't really dream at all./And so we got our just reward/For being greedy, spoiled and bored."
Door Closes Ending: The show ends with Charlie and the rest of the company re-entering the factory, and Charlie himself closing the gate shut.
Dramatic Thunder: Closes out Act One as Wonka leads the guests into the depths of the factory.
Dream Sequence: The night before Charlie's birthday, he dreams of having a party climaxed by his finding a Golden Ticket. The actual birthday celebration isn't nearly so happy.
Enfant Terrible: Veruca Salt is a ruthless tot who doesn't care if her father is ruined if it gets her a Golden Ticket, telling him to mortgage his factory when he explains to her that the search is bankrupting him. To a lesser extent, Mike Teavee, who seems to be a Type 2 Sociopathic Soldier in the making here — obsessed with watching programs about violence and war. Luckily, he is too hyper and easily distracted to cause much harm to others.
Floating in a Bubble: The Television Room is tweaked into "Bubblevision", with items being miniaturized and teleported via specially-created bubbles. Mike decides he wants to live in one of those bubbles, and wackiness ensues.
Foil: Veruca Salt to Charlie Bucket — she is ruthless, selfish, materialistic, and wealthy, while he is self-sacrificing, honest, and poor. Because the show starts In Medias Res and changes the plot to have Veruca get the fourth ticket rather than the second, the contrast between her charmed world and his is more obvious than in other versions.
Genius Loci: The factory is one, according to Willy Wonka: "It thinks things. It does things. Even I am sometimes surprised." (This would explain, among other things, the gargoyles.)
Girls Love Stuffed Animals: Veruca has a teddy bear...that she strangles to work out her frustration over not getting a Golden Ticket right away.
Greek Chorus: The gargoyles in Act One and the Oompa-Loompas and Squirrels in Act Two.
Happily Ever After: The exact words are used in the finale chorus, which celebrates Charlie becoming Wonka's heir.
Happy Birthday to You: The grandparents sing this to Charlie to try and cheer him up after his birthday bar of chocolate turns out not to have a Golden Ticket. He appreciates their effort...
In Medias Res: The story begins shortly after the third Golden Ticket has been found.
"I Want" Song: The segment "Dreams and Ambitions" is this for Charlie, who wants to escape his dreary existence and journey into the magical worlds he sees in his mind. The sequence directly contrasts this with Veruca ruing her inability to procure a Golden Ticket.
Kids Are Cruel: Violet — who is obsessed with looking thin — picks on Augustus over his weight and even says with regard to his karmic fate "He deserves it. He was fat!" Veruca is much nastier in her bossiness than in other versions, and both she and Mike look down upon poor Charlie.
King Incognito: All signs point to Mr. Know and Willy Wonka being the same person (the latter using a Wig, Dress, Accent disguise...without the accent!), but Charlie never figures it out.
Mr. Exposition: Played with. Mr. Know's conversation with Charlie at the start of the show helps establish the story, but he can't (or won't) answer all of Charlie's questions about the mysterious factory, which makes his name rather ironic...
Mysterious Mist / Ominous Fog: When the gates to the factory open at the end of the first act, a huge cloud of what the libretto describes as "steam and smoke" begins to fill the entire stage. Mr. Wonka leads the tour group right into it, while the observing crowd backs away in terror...
No Talking Or Phones Warning: In-universe. To preserve the secrets of his factory, Wonka warns his guests that no cameras are allowed inside. As written, he looks at Veruca and her father as he says this; as the audience learns in Act Two, he's right to be suspicious of them.
Obsessed with Food: Charlie's grandparents — not just because food is so scarce for them (as in the novel), but because all they are getting is cabbage soup, which they loathe. And, naturally, all of Augustus Gloop's dialogue boils down to how much he loves eating.
Our Gargoyles Rock: The outer wall of the factory is topped by living gargoyles that serve as a Greek Chorus in Act One. The only one aware that they are alive (as they usually freeze when people look at them) seems to be sweetshop owner Mr. Know, one clue that there's likely more to him than meets the eye.
Plot Hole: Grandpa Joe stays behind with Mrs. Teavee after her son is miniaturized. The next time the audience sees him, he's back home in bed with the other grandparents. How did he get out of the factory — and why did he just go home without Charlie?
Race Lift: The Atlanta Opera staging alternated two child actors in the role of Charlie. One of the two, Reuben Roy, was black even though all of his grandparents were played by white performers. This was likely a case of Ability over Appearance.
Totally Radical: Mike Teavee is thirteen, according to the script. His introductory dialogue: "C-c-c-c-cool B-babies!/Plug me in, man! Wicked!" Oddly, later in the show he uses terms like "Wowee!" and "See you later, allig-g-g-gator!", which aren't any less dated and sound even stranger given the character's intended age.
Waving Signs Around: In a positive example, in the Atlanta production the crowd gathered to see Mr. Wonka escort the Golden Ticket finders into the factory did this ("Atlanta Loves Wonka", "Marry Me Wonka", etc.).
What Happened to the Mouse?: Did Augustus, Violet, and Mike's parents ever get out of the factory? They aren't seen in the finale when the other kids emerge, as their actors are playing Charlie's other grandparents.