Acceptable Targets: Augustus Gloop and Angina Salt are both mocked in-story and in the narration for their obesity; the Salt family in general is also the epitome of obnoxious, spoiled rich people who use money to get everything they want.
While it's less prevalent than it is in the movie (see below) the book still manages it at least once:
Oh, the joy of being able to cram large pieces of something sweet and solid into one's mouth!
In one of Dahl's writings for Playboy, "schnozzberry" was used as a euphemism for "penis."
Adaptation Displacement: In the U.S., the story and characters are better known from the two film adaptations, especially the 1971 version, than the source novel these days. To the point that people accused the 2005 film of making stuff up when it was actually restoring things that were in the book but left out or changed for the 1971 film.
Mr. Willy Wonka is either a genius, a monster, or a combination thereof. As he is an Interpretative Character, every major adaptation takes him in a different direction. The 1971 film portrays him as a traditional Trickster Mentor, while the 2005 film presents him as a strange recluse who refuses to grow up — and serves as a foil to Charlie, whose poverty and responsibilities leave his childhood almost joyless. The 2013 musical presents him as a Sugar-and-Ice PersonalityAnti-Hero, whereas its 2017 retool makes him closer to a straight-up villain. Each of these provides fodder for unique Alternate Character Interpretations, but questions that can apply to most any reading/viewing include:
Is Charlie merely a patsy, intended to inherit the responsibility for the multiple acts of child abuse, unsafe working conditions, and slave labour committed in Mr. Wonka's factory?
Could Mr. Wonka be an example of Asexuality? His devotion to a field of work most would consider only a hobby and the fact he didn't get married and chose to find an heir rather than have children suggests he might be a Celibate Eccentric Genius.
Is Mr. Wonka an Aesop Enforcer and Chessmaster, deliberately steering the unknowing brats towards their various fates as a Radish Cure of sorts or a way to Scare 'em Straight? Each is taken out of the running when they go to steal or use something that clearly isn't safe but they still want, all playing right into their various vices — which Mr. Wonka is likely aware of, having presumably followed the press coverage of the contest. It would also explain why the Oompa-Loompas seem to know so much about the kids (a question actually broached in-story in the 2005 film). In adaptations, Mr. Wonka usually seems to be decidedly unconcerned with rescuing or stopping the kids, so...
This Cracked article gives some good points as to why Burton's Wonka may as well be a Serial Killer, considering his characterization is strikingly similar to multiple tropes associated with slasher flicks.
In a related issue, are any or all of the tickets intended to fall into the hands of the kids who find them, that they may be punished or rewarded as appropriate? Depending on which version one's reading/watching, the possibility may be unaddressed, teased, lampshaded, and/or confirmed.
So, Grandpa Joe has spent decades in bed, being waited on hand-and-foot by his daughter-in-law, while his son slaves away to earn the pittance that the family exists on. As soon as his grandson gets some good news, though, he's straight out of bed and taking the opportunity to be Charlie's escort. Which raises the question: Did the good news really jolt some life and vigor back into Grandpa Joe, or is he actually a lazy individual? The most recent major adaptation, the 2013 musical, outright declares it to be the former (as explained in "Don'cha Pinch Me Charlie" and the 2017 Retool framing it as finally getting the "call to arms" he's been waiting for), while the latter take was spoofed in a February 2017 Saturday Night Live sketch.
Angst? What Angst?: The Golden Ticket tour group learns how dangerous Wonka's Factory can be — not to mention how nonchalant their guide is — when Augustus Gloop winds up sent to who-knows-where via the pipes, but it doesn't dampen their enthusiasm for the rest of the tour, even as further members are eliminated in similarly absurd disasters. No matter what they witness, no one ever asks to leave if they aren't directly affected by events, and the Audience Surrogate is having the time of his life. Granted, the disasters are all played for Black Comedy and the victims are all repulsive brats and coddling parents. The 2013 stage adaptation plays with this trope a little, again for laughs — even though the party is horrified by what happens to Augustus (and in this version it's suggested he might not survive), when the impatient Mr. Wonka asks them "Anybody want to go home?" not one answers in the affirmative! As the party further dwindles, though, anxiety creeps into the wonder of those still standing...
Anvilicious: The fates of the bratty kids. Lampshade Hanging in the 2013 musical tweaks this: "True, we lost a few children along the way...but we all learned something and that's the important thing!" according to Wonka.
Applicability: The novel has enough of this going on that Lucy Mangan's Milestone Celebration retrospective Inside Charlie's Chocolate Factory devotes two sidebars to examining the Marxist and Freudian interpretations, albeit with tongue planted firmly in cheek. Let's not even get into the adaptations...
Designated Villain: Mike and especially Violet have the potential to be seen this way due to Values Dissonance; in the source material, they are considered "bad" primarily because they are addicted to television and chewing gum, respectively. Most 21st-century adaptations deliberately give both of them more unlikable personalities so that they do not end up Unintentionally Sympathetic.
Charlie Bucket is poor but virtuous and has as warm and loving a family as one could wish for. They suffer quite a bit early on... then he not only gets the rare chance to visit the factory he's always wondered about plus a lifetime supply of sweets, but also winds up becoming heir to the place! True, life as Willy Wonka's guest (and, in the sequel, sidekick) is sometimes terrifying — but so long as you follow the rules, it's never, ever boring.
Willy Wonka himself: A Renaissance Man extraordinaire, possessed of remarkable wit and intelligence, he doesn't just live in The Wonderland but created it. Moreover, while the real world can a harsh place for the good and too-comfortable for the bad, in his world, be it by chance or plotting, Laser-Guided Karma prevails. For anyone dispirited by just how unfair the world can be, this is a deeply satisfying fantasy.
Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory: Marilyn Manson, a longtime fan of the 1971 film, expressed interest in playing the role of Willy Wonka in the 2005 film, and has a theory that Wonka is Satan, tempting and leading the damned souls (the children) into Hell!
Fandom Rivalry: The fandom has many rivalries within it over the novel and its adaptations, making it an inter-media example.
Is the 1971 film a wonderful, tuneful Pragmatic Adaptation that makes Charlie truly earn his happy ending and has become just as iconic a story as, if not moreso than, the book...or is it an Audience-Coloring Adaptation that violates his noble character, has drippy songs, and unfairly overshadows the novel and all other versions of it, including more faithful ones? Notably, Roald Dahl hated the film.
Is the 2005 film beautiful, lavish, Truer to the Text and worthy of Dahl's novel...or is it a soulless parade of weird imagery that derails the wonderful character of Willy Wonka to push a Loners Are Freaks/"family knows best" message that is the antithesis of Dahl? Is it admirable for trying to do things differently than the '71 film, or inferior for precisely that reason?
The rivalries get even more heated over how the '71 film impacted the '05 film's public perception. Attackers will cite that the first film has become such a cultural touchstone that trying to re-adapt its source material would only lead to failure (consider that there hasn't been a straight adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz for film after the 1939 film's success.) Defenders appreciate the Truer to the Text approach and agree it would be a lot more acclaimed if it weren't in the first film's shadow.
Is the 2013 West End musical a darkly lovable Pragmatic Adaptation, clearly created by people who wanted to preserve Dahl's spirit and humor, that steps out of the shadow of the film versions even with a Bootstrapped Theme and some Internal Homages, and finally remembers that Charlie is the central character, not Willy Wonka...or is it just another flashy spectacle lacking drama and heart, with a boring first act and frantic second one, and songs that don't hold a candle to those of the '71 version (most people agree they're at least better than the '05 one)? Many people who don't like this show state that they would have preferred a straight Screen-to-Stage Adaptation of the '71 film, but Dahl's estate likely wouldn't have allowed the former option, because he hated that version. (The closest thing to that they've been willing to authorize is the 2005 show Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka, but that's a children's theater piece rather than a "legit" musical.)
Is the 2017 Broadway retool of the musical, which subbed in several of the 1971 songs, drastically rewrote the libretto, and dropped the scenery porn, a superior take that truly celebrates imagination or a cheap cash-in on the brand name that doesn't work as a loose adaptation of the '71 film or as a fresh take on the novel?
First Installment Wins: Raise your hand if you didn't know the book has a sequel! Even Inside Charlie's Chocolate Factory barely acknowledges its existence. (It doesn't help that it was a case of Money, Dear Boy for the author.)
Harsher in Hindsight: The Amusing Injuries the kids suffer are much more terrifying if one remembers that children used to work in factories, and often suffered horrific actual injuries (sometimes fatal) upon the slightest mistake.
Hilarious in Hindsight: Veruca's surname, Salt, was originally derived from a medication for warts (Verruca Salt) but is now even more fitting when you consider "salty" is now slang for "easily upset or angered" which Veruca definitely is.
Iconic Character, Forgotten Title: To an extent. Willy Wonka is the standout character and the first and most famous adaptation, a 2005 American stage musical featuring that first adaptation's songs, and a defictionalized candy brand are named after him rather than poor Charlie. But other adaptations use the original title without any trouble.
It Was His Sled: Between all the adaptations and parodies, The Reveal that the Golden Ticket contest is a way for Mr. Wonka to find an heir has become this; some adaptations (most obviously the 2005 film) pull Not His Sled twists to compensate.
Just Here for Godzilla: Many fans of the novel and/or adaptations are Just There for Willy Wonka and complain that he and the factory don't get enough "onstage time" in favor of that boring poor kid and his family. Go to any theatre message board discussing the 2013 musical and there will be complaints that boil down to this and wonder why the 2017 Broadway Retool didn't change that. Some versions, including said retool, try to address this by giving Mr. Wonka a King Incognito identity as someone who befriends Charlie, and even revealing his Zany Scheme and true identity to the audience at the top of the show...but this kills the mystery the novel and other adaptations build up around him and his world.
Memetic Mutation: Inside Charlie's Chocolate Factory briefly discusses two that are certainly not limited to the Internet: "'Willy Wonka' is now shorthand for any kind of innovator or eccentric genius.[...]Having a Golden Ticket is synonymous with getting an access-all-areas pass to anything desirable." The former's memetic status is reflected on this wiki with Mr. Wonka becoming a Trope Namer — one of the few remaining ones that's named after a specific character.
Ron the Death Eater: Grandpa Joe is demonized by fans as an evil asshole who makes Dolores Umbridge look like a saint. In the book his worst "crime" is being lazy: spending years in bed (instead of helping Charlie's poor parents) and then being suddenly able to walk when Charlie gets the Golden Ticket.
The Scrappy: Grandpa Joe gets a lot of hate and there are entire blogs dedicated to bashing him, mainly because fans see him as a Designated Hero. Particularly with his actions in the first movie adaptation where he is a bad influence on Charlie, inspiring a subreddit dedicated to hating him with over 50 000 subscriptions.
Slow-Paced Beginning: The first third of the book is devoted to backstory and Developing Doomed Characters, but once the tour begins, wheeeeeee! Also applies to all adaptations, which easily split into two halves — the first set in the mundane world, the second in the absurd one.
Squick: Augustus Gloop goes for a swim in chocolate intended for eating. A few days later someone in the world will be eating chocolate that a fat boy has been swimming around in for a few minutes. The novel both addresses this and makes it worse with Mrs. Gloop yelling that Augustus will be spreading his cold into the chocolate!
Toy Ship: Though many fanworks age them up a few years, shipping the kids happens pretty often.
Violet's primary vice being gum chewing has aged poorly, so starting with the 2005 film the character is tweaked in adaptations to make her the proudest or vainest of the kids, with the gum chewing habit endemic of the larger issue. The 1971 film even has the Oompa Loompas briefly acknowledge the benefits of gum-chewing when they sing Violet out.
In the 2005 film, she is a Competition Freak who has to be a winner in everything she sets her mind to, hence her becoming a world-champion gum chewer.
In the 2010 opera, she is vain and obsessed with being thin. She chews rather than eats.
In the 2013 musical, she is an airheaded starlet who, with her dad's help, parlayed her "talent" for gum chewing into a multimedia Cash Cow Franchise.
Augustus Gloop's status as an Acceptable Target was subject to considerable criticism by the time of the 2005 film, due to weight and body-shaming being far more sensitive issues in the 21st century. That doesn't keep that film and later adaptations from sticking with a straight Fat Idiot / Fat Bastard portrayal, though, probably because the primary reason he's fat is because he's greedy and overeats.
While Willy Wonka's bringing in Oompa-Loompas to run the factory was done for somewhat valid reasons — many of his original workforce proved disloyal and kept selling his secrets to his competitors — nowadays it would be viewed in a very different light. Depending on one's political leanings, either it would be viewed as Wonka exploiting people who had no concept of the value of money for his own gains, or it would be seen as him putting his former workforce out of a job and bringing in cheap foreign labour, again largely for his own gains.
Values Resonance: Gum chewing may not be seen as a vice anymore, and Mike's plot thread leans on New Media Are Evil, but by and large the obnoxious behavior of the brats and their parents' willingness to indulge them are timeless issues that are easy to adapt to whatever The Present Day is, which might be a reason the story has been consistently popular and frequently adapted for 50+ years.
While attitudes towards gum chewing, addiction to television and video games, and childhood obesity might change over time, there's at least one kid whose behavior comes across as obnoxious, unquestionably wrong, and deserving punishment (ditto for the parents for causing it) in any culture or society before and after 1964: Veruca Salt.
Vanilla Protagonist: Charlie's Nice Guy lack of vices sets a contrast when he's surrounded by the colorful brats; he's their foil. There's also the eccentric Mr. Wonka.
We're Still Relevant, Dammit!: Post-1980s adaptations, particularly in their efforts to update Violet and Mike, can easily run into this trope. The 2005 film has a sight gag involving an Oompa-Loompa watching Oprah Winfrey! The 2013 stage musical has a Boastful Rap (later a pop number) for Violet and Cyberpunk Is Techno for Mike in the Genre Roulette. Of course, most all of this is strictly Played for Laughs, and it helps that both of the above-mentioned versions take place in Retro Universe settings and, again, make their of-the-moment vices endemic of timeless issues.
The 2017 Retool of the stage musical deserves special mention because many of the changes made between London and New York City scream this trope: Donald Trump references, #HashtagForLaughs, Veruca and her father being portrayed as unscrupulous Russians at a time when Vladimir Putin was a hot topic in the press...
The Woobie: Charlie, for all the criticism about his being a Useless Protagonist, is clearly a good, selfless kid who's been dealt a lousy hand by life and deserves a break. He's particularly woobie-ish in the 1971 film (see that version's YMMV page) and the 2013 musical (see below).
Woobie Species: The Oompa-Loompas, if one doesn't regard them as just exceptionally tiny humans (their children are only a few inches tall). Their lives might be Happiness in Slavery now, but it's still a substantial improvement on their previous existence in Loompaland...
Woolseyism: A mild case. Veruca Salt's surname was changed to Paprika in the Hebrew translation because "Salt" doesn't have a meaning in Hebrew and young readers wouldn't understand there's a connection between the name and the dad's business.
Broken Base: On regards to the Adaptation Expansion, particularly Wonka's new backstory which shows his father was a domineering, strict dentist who denied the young Wonka any candy whatsoever out of concernfor the health of his teeth. Eventually, Wonka re-encounters his estranged dad with Charlie's help and both reconcile. Those who like this new element claim it helps add a whole new layer to Wonka and greatly humanizes him beyond being, in Burton's words, a "generic weirdo". Those who dislike it, however, claim the Daddy Issues-themed backstory feels too clichéd and ruins the mystery behind Wonka, which has always been a staple of the character ever since the original Dahl novel. Granted, even the most ardent detractors of this have been a little forgiving on it because sir Christopher Lee's acting as a stern, cold, nightmarish dentist is simply top-notch.
Critical Dissonance: On Rotten Tomatoes, the 2005 adaptation has a "fresh" critic score of 82%, but the audience score for the film is only 51%.
Ear Worm: Every last song on the soundtrack, but especially Wonka's welcome song.
Draco in Leather Pants: Violet and Mike due to their Ensemble Dark Horse status in this version. Even if they are both openly antagonistic, much more so than in the 1971 film or the book, their fans claim that they are just normal kids who never did anything wrong.
The big example of this turns out to be Willy Wonka, due to his backstory.
Violet is more of a dominireeng Alpha Bitch than in most adaptations, but it's made abundantly clear that her brattiness is the result of years of psychological abuse by her hideous Stage Mom, who is the true Hate Sink of her arc. This has likely contributed to Violet being one of the most popular characters of this adaptation. It also helps that's she's portrayed by Annasophia Robb, who's had a far more successful career than the other child actors bar Freddie Highmore (and even his career slumped until he moved into television work as a young adult).
Mike Teavee. Despite his sociopathic nature he was often the only one who was smart enough to detect the absolute lunacy behind Wonka and the factory.
Memetic Molester: Willy Wonka. Beyond the Nightmare Fuel elements of Johnny Depp's performance, when the film hit theaters it was in the wake of Michael Jackson being found not guilty on child molestation charges. As Depp's Wonka and White Jackson are superficially similar in appearance, the film was the butt of jokes and questions as to whether this was intentional.
The Scrappy: Willy Wonka himself! Johnny Depp's performance was panned especially in comparison to Gene Wilder's much-loved take on the character — this usually being the main reason the 1971 film is considered superior to it. Not helping matters is his Adaptation Personality Change, which reaches a low point when he wants Charlie to abandon his family completely to work in the factory. His resemblance to Michael Jackson was also much remarked upon, especially since the film came out at the height of a sex scandal.
Though no one ever mentions it, Violet's mother has clearly had some plastic surgery. For that matter, when Violet turns into a blueberry it's quite obvious when AnnaSophia Robb is replaced by a CGI version of Violet, and the change can be quite jarring, especially in the close-ups on her face.
Willy Wonka also qualifies, thanks to his unnatural paleness, lack of social skills, and Dissonant Serenity.
Veruca's father, who can't work out how to climb over a very small gate.
The Indian prince who ignored Willy Wonka's warning that his chocolate palace would melt down under the fiery sun if he didn't eat it quickly; one would think he'd know that chocolate isn't great construction material. At the very least, he was probably just too vain to realize it.
The Woobie: Charlie and his family, of course. There's also Mr. Teavee, Mike's father; unlike the other parents who spoil their children rotten, he's just an Extreme Doormat to a TV-obsessed son, admitting he just can't get a handle on someone who grew up too fast. And Mr. Salt, who's obviously getting very tired of catering to Veruca's every demand, before finally snapping at the end when she sees the Great Glass Elevator.
Americans Hate Tingle: U.K. reviews ranged from straight-up pans to "fun but not as good as Matilda" to raves. U.S. critics universally panned it, since many of them looked at it in relation to the 1971 movie instead of the book or the previous Dahl musical. This may or may not be a reason why the 2017 Broadway production had an extensive Retool, given that stage adaptations of extremely popular children's stories have a tendency to be Critic-Proof — but it wound up making matters worse!
Applicability: As noted above under Alternate Character InterpretationDouglas Hodge, who originated the role of Mr. Wonka in this show, regarded him as "almost autistic". Indeed, Mr. Wonka does have several traits overlapping with high-functioning autism/Aspergers (sometimes Literal-Minded, often brutally honest, thinks logically, fully devoted to his craft, no close friends, extremely energetic) and in this adaptation is also a Motor Mouth who Hates Small Talk, and, as played by Hodge, is prone to extravagant arm/hand gestures. With all that in mind, his "I Am" Song "Simply Second Nature" — and his quest to find someone who has a similar creative spirit and understands his way of thinking to become his successor — becomes even more poignant than it already is in context. (And cold though he can be at times, the brats and their parents, via insults and looking down on his motivations, come off as picking on someone who is trying to be a good host and sincerely hopes they'll appreciate his work.)
Critical Dissonance: As noted above, a lot of professional critics thought it merely okay or panned it outright — and everyone compared it to not only the film adaptations, but the otherRoald Dahl musical on the West End (as well as Broadway by that point), the highly-acclaimed Matilda. Nor is there much love for the show on musical theatre message boards. Nonetheless, it lasted three-and-a-half years in London, breaking West End one-week sales records twice over in 2013 and setting house records for Theatre Royal Drury Lane more than once, with its final run of performances over Christmas 2016 the most successful of all.
Ensemble Dark Horse: Mrs. Teavee. Not only does she survive the longest (sans the Buckets and Mr. Wonka) on the tour, she also provides a great deal of comedy throughout the show with her alcoholic Stepford Smiler tendencies. She also gets a surprising, funny resolution to her character arc: she comes around to Mr. Wonka's way of thinking and is happy Mike's been shrunk.
Friendly Fandoms: At least on Tumblr, there's some overlap between this show's fanbase and that of Matilda. Beyond the obvious connection of being Roald Dahl adaptations, they also share a choreographer, their respective book writers touched base with each other on the challenges of adapting Dahl, and owing in part to the need for West End shows to triple/quadruple cast child roles a few child actors wound up logging time in both productions. One adult actress, Lara Denning, played Miss Honey in Matilda and Mrs. Bucket in this show.
In addition, back in 1983, he was in the stage musical Bashville with Julie Dawn Cole, who played Veruca Salt in the 1971 film adaptation.
Hodge has since played another brilliant high-tech inventor whose inventions have ugly downsides: Rolo Haynes, proprietor of Black Mirror's titular "Black Museum"...
Memetic Molester: Averted. In the runup to the opening, the catastrophe of the Jimmy Savile revelations (for non-U.K. tropers, he was an eccentric Top of the Pops and children's show host posthumously revealed to be a horrifically prolific serial pedophile/rapist) was still fresh news, and Douglas Hodge acknowledged in interviews that launching a musical about an eccentric chocolatier whose world is highly dangerous for bratty kids was skirting the latter trope under such circumstances. But in practice, the show didn't elicit the unsavory comparisons that the 2005 film did to Michael Jackson — likely because it fully embraces the Black Comedy of the source material and presents Mr. Wonka as an Anti-HeroDeadpan Snarker with a Sugar-and-Ice Personality, rather than the Uncanny ValleyStepford SmilerManchild of the '05 version, not to mention Dead Artists Are Better had long kicked in for Jackson at that point.
Pandering to the Base: "Pure Imagination" was incorporated into the score at the behest of the show's producers because so many people thought it would be an adaptation of the 1971 movie. So to keep them from feeling too let down that it wasn't...
Replacement Scrappy: Poor Alex Jennings, the first replacement Willy Wonka. As early as his Olivier Awards performance of "Pure Imagination" in May 2014, a month before he took the stage at Theatre Royal Drury Lane in the role, he was getting unfavorable comparisons to Douglas Hodge from fans. Once updated show trailers were uploaded to the show's offical YouTube channel in July, the bulk of the viewer comments were lamenting the change. Those who saw both performers were split on which actor did a better job with the characterization (Jennings' icy-yet-still-playful approach versus Hodge's extravagant-even-for-Wonka hamminess), but general consensus was that Hodgenote who has a side career as a Singer-Songwriter was the better singer.
Those familiar with Shaiman-Wittman's Smash songs have compared "Strike That! Reverse It!" to "Cut, Print, Moving On"; that they were working on both projects at roughly the same time — the series aired its Grand Finale shortly before previews for the stage show began in London — doesn't help.
They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: There was real disappointment in some corners of the fandom over Alex Jennings and later Jonathan Slinger choosing to play Willy Wonka as clean-shaven rather than following Douglas Hodge's precedent of a prosthetic makeup-based neatly-groomed mustache and chin tuft combination (though understudies followed said precedent). This is partially because Mr. Wonka does have a goatee in the source novel and illustrations thereof — sometimes with a mustache added — a detail both movie adaptations, and from there pop culture in general, ignore in favor of clean-shaven Wonkas.
Tough Act to Follow: An unusual case, in that it's with regard to other adaptations of the same story and/or the other work of the source material's writer rather than having the same creative team as a previous hitnote Though both this and Matilda share a choreographer. Considering the status of the 1971 film and the critical acclaim given to the otherRoald Dahl musical on the West End, Matilda, this was inevitable. While critical reception was mixed, the show was able to stick around for three-and-a-half years (by far the longest run enjoyed by a West End musical that wasn't an American import since Matilda) — and even though it's not quite as beloved as the '71 movie, it's far less hated than the '05 film. Note that this only applies to the original West End staging, not the Broadway Retool (see below), which was widely condemned from its first preview performance onward and was the basis for all subsequent productions.
Visual Effects of Awesome: All the projections, the Department of the Future sequence (particularly the perfect timing of the dancers with the television images in "Vidiots"), the Great Glass Elevator gliding out over the first few rows of the stalls (though some viewers think it wobbles too much)...even the simple trick that sends a paper airplane flying up to the balcony gets oohs and aahs.
What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: For a megabudget family-friendly musical rivalling/exceeding the Disney stage productions, there's a lot of potential offstage (if lovingly described via the songs) Death as Comedy here — visited upon children no less. Nigel Planer (who originated the role of Grandpa Joe) explained to the Daily Mail: "There were contingency plans if it scared children too much; if it was too dark. But after a few days of previews it became apparent kids love that. They laughed as they watched Veruca Salt going down a grinder. Kids find that funny. Theyre nasty, kids, arent they? I think they enjoy someone telling it like it is; we soon realised we could be as gruesome as we liked." This has Lampshade Hanging early on: When Charlie asks to hear the story of Prince Pondicherry (who, in this version, died in the melting ruins of his chocolate palace), Grandpa Joe quips: "Oh, you like the scary ones, don't you Charlie?"
The Woobie: Charlie, the most rounded version of the character since the 1971 film: A Cheerful Child prone to daydreaming who works so hard to make the best of his meager situation, a light in the lives of his toiling family, who wish they could give him the life he deserves but just can't (as seen in "If Your Mother Were Here") — really, they're all woobies. In any case, a lonely kid who has dreams that he can't attain is a sad sight indeed, and watching him fall into a blue funk as each Golden Ticket is found is heart-tugging. Even when he gets his golden chance, the poor, shy kid keeps bringing up the rear come tour day, lost in the shadows of the limelight shed on the other finders. This makes The Reveal that Willy Wonka, the man the boy admires more than any other, was secretly looking out for him all along quite touching and gratifying.
Specifically the 2017 Broadway staging
Alternate Character Interpretation: Does Willy Wonka take a shine to Charlie because he's a good, creative kid, or because the boy's an Extreme Doormat who 1) will put up with emotional and physical abuse if there might be a reward for it (however meager it might be) and 2) is such a Wonka fanboy that he can look past the horrible things he does to others? It doesn't help that they go effectively into business together at the end (whereas in London the boy becomes a Grade-School C.E.O. immediately), since Wonka has already shown he's willing to take credit for Charlie's ideas with the "Liquid Sunshine" rebranding.
The further revisions for the U.S. and Australian tours may be another case of this. Changing out some of the setpieces and adding new and more projected backdrops seems to be a response to complaints that the show didn't have enough Spectacle in New York, while replacing "What Could Possibly Go Wrong?" with "That Little Man of Mine" may have been because audiences weren't amused by lyrics like "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.
There seems to be a near-even split, applying to professional critics and ordinary showgoers, between those who prefer having the Four Bratty Kids played by adults and those who wish the original London production's conceit of casting actual kids had been retained.
Critic-Proof: Subverted. It was near-completely panned by critics and completely shut out of Tony Award nominations, but that didn't stop it from posting healthy grosses...for about five months. Once summer passed, ticket sales plunged and it closed the following January. Half of the problem was that it opened just one day before the Broadway stage adaptation of Don Bluth's Anastasia, another critical dud courting families and nostalgic millennials, did; the other half was that Dear Evan Hansen and Come From Away were breaking out big. The show did break house records for the Lunt-Fontanne during the final run of performances, but family-friendly shows tend to do well at Christmastime anyway and the West End run, by comparison, managed to get three high-grossing Christmas seasons in before closing.
Esoteric Happy Ending: Charlie not only becomes the new Candy Man and his family is moved into the factory, but he has a father figure again in Willy Wonka...a misanthropic jerk who allowed his minions to murder two little girls, left Augustus to an Uncertain Doom, and allowed Mike Teavee to remain shrunken. What happens when the brats' parents let word of this get out to the press and authorities? While this trope could also apply to the original West End version, it at least played up the Black Comedy and Fairy Tale morality, had a much more sympathetic Wonka, and wasn't as extreme with regards to Violet and Veruca's fates.
Just Here for Godzilla: To judge from the BroadwayWorld.com message boards, a lot of adult theatergoers only saw this show in New York for Christian Borle (a two-time Tony Award winner) as Willy Wonka.
Pandering to the Base: The heavy revisions from London are almost entirely motivated by pandering to fans of the story who 1) regard the 1971 film adaptation and its songs as definitive and/or 2) don't want to wait until the story's halfway point for Willy Wonka to show up.
Three more songs from the 1971 film — "The Candy Man", "I've Got a Golden Ticket", and "The Oompa-Loompa Song" — are incorporated into the score.
Willy Wonka shows up in the show's opening scene and maintains a King Incognito masquerade as the candy shop owner in Act One.
"Pure Imagination" is moved to the Chocolate Room scene because that's where it turned up in the movie, coming at the expense of "Simply Second Nature", a song that was crucial to understanding Mr. Wonka's life philosophy and the show's larger theme of "creation".
Vulture's scathing review noted it had "effects that would hardly have seemed special 20 years ago. When Wonka, who has spent much of the first act in disguise as a candy store owner in order to give Borle something to do, reveals himself as the grand wizard of chocolate, the transformation scene involves a crowd gathering around him while he takes off his overcoat." (In London, the coat vanished in full view of the audience as he stood in the doorway.)
The final stage of Violet's transformation into a blueberry is represented by Eugene running across the stage carrying a large purple-velour covered ball that is not even as big as Violet looked as she stumbled off stage once she began transforming.
They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: Those on the pro-London side of this show's Broken Base regard the changes made to the show in the transition to New York City as for the worse, and even some who prefer the Broadway version would have liked to have the Scenery Porn kept in at least.
Unintentionally Unsympathetic: This Willy Wonka was intended as a delightful Karmic Trickster ala Bugs Bunny, to go by Christian Borle's comments, but he's such a misanthrope towards everyone that when combined with his lack of sympathy for what happens to the bad kids he's a lot closer to The Bully. The book tries to justify this by emphasizing that finding out that some of his workers were actually spies was a Cynicism Catalyst for him, but it's really hard to sympathize with someone who teases a hungry child with the possibility of a free candy bar and takes pleasure in getting his guests hurt in an invisible maze.