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Trivia / Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

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Enough trivia and what-could-have-beens surround this novel and its myriad adaptations that they've warranted whole books of their own: Spotty Powder and Other Splendiferous Secrets, Pure Imagination (1971 film-specific), and the 50th anniversary Milestone Celebration Inside Charlie's Chocolate Factory. Consider the information below a highlight reel.

The novel

  • Adaptation Overdosed: In order of release, there's...
    • Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971 film)
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    • A non-musical stage play by Richard George that's extremely faithful to the book; Dahl approved of it
    • A BBC Radio 4 adaptation in The '80s (Note: One troper was an Oompa-Loompa in the radio adaptation, and has spent years trying to track down a recording)
    • A musical stage adaptation by Jeremy Raison and Christopher Reason that toured the U.K. and elsewhere in The '80s
    • A 1985 video game for the ZX Spectrum
    • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005 film)
    • Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka, a 2005 U.S. stage musical created for the touring children's theatre circuit that uses the 1971 film's songs and adds new numbers by Leslie Bricusse, the film's lyricist, but the script is significantly different to the point that it isn't promoted as the loose Screen-to-Stage Adaptation it is. Notable for existing in four different versions, ranging from a half-hour "Kids" version suitable for a grade-school assembly to a full-length version that can use child and adult actors
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    • The 2005 film had several tie-in video games.
    • A 2006 Disney-style combination boat/simulator ride at the U.K. theme park Alton Towers.
    • The Golden Ticket (2010 opera)
    • In 2013, WMS Gaming introduced video slot machines based on the 1971 film!
    • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2013 West End stage musical, Retooled for Broadway in 2017)
    • The online game Poptropica has an island themed after the novel.
    • Tom and Jerry: Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (2017 Direct to Video animated feature)
  • Cash Cow Franchise: Qualifies as this for Roald Dahl's estate, if only because it's Adaptation Overdosed.
  • Creator Backlash: Roald Dahl didn't much care for Joseph Schindelman's illustration work in the initial U.S. release of the book, and ensured that a different illustrator, Faith Jacques handled the UK release (though Schindelman was still hired to illustrate the first U.S. edition of Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator). Later on, both the U.S. and UK releases were re-illustrated by Michael Foreman, and then it was re-done a third time by Quentin Blake a few years after Dahl's death.
  • Defictionalization: The first film adaptation was largely Merchandise-Driven. Quaker Oats gave a ton of money to the production and then changed the name of an upcoming candy line to Wonka, which is also one reason for its title change. That line initially flopped, but the brand was subsequently retooled and relaunched — it is currently owned by Nestlé. Ironically, the Wonka brand is best-known for non-chocolate products (Nerds are their most famous original creation, and their Everlasting Gobstoppers don't last forever, unfortunately), and is more popular in the U.S. than the U.K. But they do have several varieties of chocolate bars in the U.K., and Nestlé even supplied all of the edible prop candy for the 2005 film.
    • Now there also is an inflatable blueberry suit (obviously NSFW), to imitate Violet's transformation .
  • Milestone Celebration: The 50th anniversary in 2014 ("50 Whipple-Scrumptious Years", as the official logo put it) was marked with a variety of events and offerings and specifically kicked off on January 31st, since that's the day Charlie finds his Golden Ticket.
    • Penguin Books added the novel to their adult-oriented Penguin Modern Classics line, which went awry due to having a Contemptible Cover. It had several kid-friendlier anniversary editions too, including deluxe reissues of both the Joseph Schindelman and Quentin Blake-illustrated editions (the latter in full-color for the first time).
    • The retrospective book Inside Charlie's Chocolate Factory was released.
    • Other events included contests in the U.S. and U.K., and the annual Puffin Virtually Live school webcast that marks Roald Dahl's birthday was centered on the book. While the 2013 West End stage musical was not specifically mounted to tie in to this anniversary, it was incorporated into many of the U.K.-based events, such as the webcast and an Easter-season window display at the Piccadilly Circus Waterstone's bookstore that recreated its sets in miniature with chocolate biscuits. The show's director Sam Mendes also wrote the introduction to the aforementioned Modern Classics edition of the novel.
  • What Could Have Been: The original concept for the story didn't have any children in it! After that, there were multiple drafts, each with different numbers of children (anywhere from five up to thirty) with different personalities and fates, as explained below. The general plot was different too: In an early draft the factory tours were a weekly event, Willy Wonka had a son called Freddie, and the story ended with Charlie getting his own chocolate shop. There's a lot of information here. Highlights of the could-have-beens:
    • Miranda Mary Piker was a school-obsessed swot. Rough draft material from this subplot, in which she and her headmaster father meet their comeuppance trying to destroy a machine that makes a powder that allows one to play sick for the day, is featured in Spotty Powder and Other Splendiferous Secrets.
      • Dahl has reported that he cut Miranda's storyline from the book because he worried that it would make Charlie appear unsympathetic to adult readers, as he worried that Charlie's negative reaction to school would be excessive.
    • Marvin Prune was a very conceited boy.
    • Miranda Grope would have disappeared up the pipes along with Augustus Gloop.
    • Wilbur Rice and Timmy Troutbeck rode off atop the carts hauling fudge away from Vanilla Fudge Mountain to The Pounding and Cutting Room.
    • Clarence Crump, Bertie Upside, and Trevor Roper ate handfuls of Warming Candies and were only saved from inwardly-firey death by being put in a refrigerator.
    • Augustus Gloop was originally named Augustus Pottle, Violet Beauregarde had the alternate last names of Glockenberry and Strabismus, Veruca Salt started out with the name Elvira Entwhistle, and Mike Teavee's original name was Herpes Trout.
    • The Oompa-Loompas' original name was the Whipple-Scrumpets. (In the finished book, Charlie's favorite variety of Wonka Bar happens to be the Whipple-Scrumptious Fudgemallow Delight.)
    • Originally Mrs. Bucket was Charlie's companion on the tour rather than Grandpa Joe, the Wonka Factory had conventional workers rather than Oompa-Loompas, and instead of elaborate poems verses of an And Then There Were None-esque ditty came in the wake of each child's fate.
    • And very early on, Charlie was black. Dahl's editor convinced him to drop that idea.

The 1971 film

see here

The 2005 film

The 2013 West End Musical

  • Actor-Inspired Element: Willy Wonka's elegant Staff of Authority having the bendy properties of a bamboo cane (think Charlie Chaplin) was role originator Douglas Hodge's idea; he'd been rehearsing with a bamboo cane and grew used to its feel and the tricks, stances, etc. this allowed him. (See What Could Have Been below for how his input affected other aspects of the show.)
  • Cut Song: Not a whole song, but the second verse of "The Amazing Tale of Mr. Willy Wonka" (about the Serious Business of his sweets) was cut with the 2014 cast turnover, skipping to the Prince Pondicherry story. It is preserved on the cast album.
    • "The Double Bubble Duchess" was replaced in April 2016 with "Queen of Pop," a song written for the then-forthcoming Broadway production.
    • "When Willy Met Oompa" was originally written for the London show, but was cut prior to rehearsals. It was reinstated for the Broadway production.
  • Deleted Scene/Orphaned Reference: The "Creation Overture" animated prologue was dropped in 2014 upon the first major cast turnover for reasons unknown, though pacing and/or not wanting to rerecord the narrationnote  may have been factors. This cut resulted in the loss of the Meaningful Echo of the phrase "just a bean" in "It Must Be Believed to Be Seen".
  • Executive Meddling: This is the reason "Pure Imagination" from the 1971 film is included with what is otherwise a completely new score. Sam Mendes wasn't too happy about this, since he wanted the show to stand on its own merits, but since audiences and critics love its placement as Climactic Music — and it ties in to the Central Theme perfectly — this is arguably a case of Tropes Are Not Bad.
  • Milestone Celebration: This was the show that officially reopened the newly renovated/restored Theatre Royal Drury Lane, the world's oldest operating theatre, for its 350th anniversary in 2013.
  • Saved from Development Hell: The initial plan for a Broadway transfer to launch in the 2014-15 season was scrapped, partially due to Sam Mendes being busy with other projects and the need to wait on a theatre big enough to accommodate its huge physical production becoming available. The Broadway production, with Jack O'Brien taking over the directing duties from Mendes (who stayed on as a producer), opened in April 2017.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • As discussed in this article, director Sam Mendes first tried to get the stage rights to the novel in the late 1980s. He tried again at the Turn of the Millennium, but the rights were with Warner Bros. by then, and they were busy with what became the 2005 film. Once that was out of the way, the go-ahead was given for a new stage adaptation in 2007. From there the show went through fifty drafts! (Amazingly, the first song written, "Almost Nearly Perfect", managed to survive the whole way.)
    • Before going with the conceit of adult actors in trick costumes (ala how Lord Farquaad was handled in the stage version of Shrek) to play the Oompa-Loompas, the creators considered either using puppets or casting children in the roles.
    • Douglas Hodge's decision to take on the role of Willy Wonka meant giving up the chance to play the title character in a Cameron Mackintosh-produced revival of Barnum at Chichester Festival Theatre. But he'd never had the chance to take part in the creative process of staging a new musical before (of his previous roles in stage musicals, 1983's Bashville came very early in his career, and all the others were revivals), and Sam Mendes and the writers were willing to listen to his input.
    • "It Must Be Believed to Be Seen" was almost a Cut Song, as the songwriters came up with a far more bombastic number to take its place. That song made it to the readthrough stage, but Douglas Hodge wasn't happy with it and wanted something the writers, who felt much the same way by that point, played "It Must Be Believed to Be Seen" for him, and with further tweaking, the song was back in the show. Part of the tweaking involved Mr. Wonka's entrance — Hodge, who had read the book but not yet seen the 1971 movie adaptation, wanted to fake a fall as he came down the steps. Once he understood that this was too similar to the '71 film, the Internal Homage variant involving an Instant Costume Change instead of a tumble emerged.
    • Initially the show was set to premiere at the London Palladium, but when the West End production of Shrek The Musical announced its closing notice, leaving the similarly massive Theatre Royal Drury Lane free, plans were changed.
    • The Great Glass Elevator setpiece was so hard to perfect that not only were the earliest preview performances cancelled outright, but an alternative version of the "Pure Imagination" sequence was created in which the elevator is explicitly described as invisible (the actors miming its walls).
    • The chocolate river and the boat ride down it couldn't be convincingly realized on stage without killing the show's pacing (via time-consuming switching in and out of setpieces), hence the simpler waterfall setpiece in the Chocolate Room and a different journey-by-boat for the transition from the Nut Room to the Department of the Future.
    • The final stretch of "Juicy!" features roller-skating Oompa-Loompas; originally Willy Wonka was going to skate too, but Douglas Hodge never got the hang of it and concerns for his safety led to that bit of business getting cut.

The 2017 Broadway Retool

  • Cut Song:
    • "The Amazing Tale of Mr. Willy Wonka" was replaced with a solo for Grandpa Joe, "Charlie, You and I" (titled "Tales of Wonka" in early previews, suggesting that it may have originally been longer). "Willy Wonka! Willy Wonka!," while preceding this song, plays the exposition song role "Amazing Tale" did in London.
    • "Almost Nearly Perfect" was cut in favor of the 1971 film's "The Candy Man" as part of a completely new opening sequence.
    • "It's Teavee Time" was replaced with "What Could Possibly Go Wrong?"
    • Aside from a few lyrics referred to as "Grandpa Joe" in the song listing, "Don'cha Pinch Me Charlie" was cut and replaced with "I've Got a Golden Ticket" from the '71 film.
    • "Simply Second Nature" was replaced with "Pure Imagination", which was moved to the Chocolate Room scene to make room for "The View from Here", the new Climactic Music.
    • "Juicy!" was cut, leaving Violet the only brat without "The Villain Sucks" Song; her demise is a wacky background event during the Backstory song "When Willy Met Oompa" instead.
    • "A Little Me" and the closing reprise of "It Must Be Believed to Be Seen" were cut, leaving "The View From Here" as the final song in the show.
    • Originally, a Triumphant Reprise of "Strike That! Reverse It!" came after "The View from Here" but this was axed during previews.
    • The touring productions cut "What Could Possibly Go Wrong?" in favor of "That Little Man of Mine", a song cut from earlier stagings. This may have been because audiences weren't amused by lyrics in the former song such as "And then we tweet before we think" and "And though he may be malcontent/Someday he might be president" that were seen as digs at President Donald Trump.
  • Dawson Casting: In the same vein as The Golden Ticket, the four bratty kids are played by adult actors here, leaving Charlie as the only child in the entire cast.
  • Deliberate Flaw Retcon: In the New York Times article discussing the Retool, the creative team claimed that the much less elaborate sets were "meant to reinforce the show’s oft-stated theme: the importance of imagination. The change was prompted partly by necessity — the British sets were designed for a West End theater that has a much larger stage than the Broadway house." But by the time this piece was published, there had been many complaints from preview audiences that the sets were a huge comedown from the Scenery Porn of the West End version and didn't live up to what all of the promotional material and even the exterior of the theater promised, and more cynical theatergoers were theorizing that the REAL reason they didn't just use/adapt the London sets was a desire to mount the show on the cheap and make it easier to tour. After the article was published, these theatergoers argued that if they really intended the audience to use its imaginations, they should have gone with an even more minimalist approach (ala Peter And The Starcatcher).
  • Dyeing for Your Art: Christian Borle shaved his head to play Willy Wonka
  • Orphaned Reference: Charlie's "How d'ja do?" Catchphrase isn't a catchphrase in this version due to the cutting of "Almost Nearly Perfect", spoiling the joke at the end of Act One when it's the first and almost only thing he can think of to say on the red carpet.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Sam Mendes was going to direct the Broadway transfer, but due to his many commitments he had to hand off the duties to Jack O'Brien.
    • The Revised Ending originally revealed that all four brats somehow survived their ordeals in the factory, whereupon Charlie decided to make them his employees with their respective vices turned to positive ends. However, preview audiences apparently saw this as Ending Fatigue after "The View from Here", and this and the Triumphant Reprise of "Strike That! Reverse It!" were cut to end the show as soon as possible, turning the finale into a Focus Group Ending.


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