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CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY – LIVE IN DETROIT OPERA HOUSE

 

Detroit – This is whimsical tale. Not just Charlie and his discovery of Willy Wonka and his amazing Chocolate Factory but how I actually got the see the play in itself. You see, I won a real Golden Ticket! You might be thinking that I am just too old for that sort of thing and maybe the rules for fun do not apply to someone such as myself but it happened. And it happened in a very unusual way.

You see I have this whole soundtrack of, “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” engraved into my subconscious memory. It is fixated there permanently and will not be removed. That is why when I saw the mannequin in the 12 Oaks Mall storefront window I stood frozen in my tracks. I knew exactly what I was looking at the minute I fixed my eyes on it. I was staring at Willy Wonka’s suit, the fictional candy maker extroadinare by author Roald Dahl) There was a sign next to it announcing the upcoming play, “Charlie and The Chocolate Factory” musical LIVE at the Detroit Opera House. If you would take a selfie with the suit and tag it with #12OaksMall and #BroadwayinDetroit you could win 4 tickets to see this incredible play on opening night. It sounded to good to be true but I did it anyways.

I went home to see if anyone else had submitted their pictures. I didn’t see a single entry from anyone! Can you believe that? By Tuesday I was kind of concerned that nobody else even considered to even put their pictures up on social media in hopes to win tickets. Are we this jaded and negative of a society? Or are we just too self absorbed? While I was deep in thought of this an incredible thing happened.

I got an alert on my Instagram from the folks at Broadway in Detroit informing me that I was the winner! Dreams do come true. I won not just one ticket but a total of four. Now I had to figure out who I was going to give them to. I had two extra tickets but they literally flew out of my hands the minute I opened my big mouth. Problem solved.

 

INSIDE THE OPERA HOUSE

I have to say the Detroit Opera House is a real treasure. It has been in existence since 1922 and was the host of vaudeville shows, theater and opera. This Grand Circus Park location is the Detroit Opera House’s 5th location. The DOH has a city history that goes back to 1869 and was once touted to be the fifth largest theater in the country. Inside are lavish red drapes, frescoes, chandeliers, and marble staircases. It is one of the great jewels of Detroit and it holds a lot of history.

Now I have to tell you that I had a Playbook for the show but it was snatched out of my hands by family and discarded. So I will do my best to tell you about this show by memory.

We were all there an hour early to make sure we would get our tickets. I was put on Will Call so I hung around the lobby like a greedy vulture until I got my tickets and they did arrive on time. I noticed the waiting room had pictures of famous acts that appeared there when the venue was turned into the Capital Theater. They carried many popular rock and roll acts of its day including Roy Orbison, and Ray Charles. I took note of some pop culture pictures of the B-52’s and the Plasmatics and the venue even showed, “The Tingler” with Vincent Price. That was a monster movie and every seat had an electric vibrator attached to it during the scary parts of the film. This was a hokey piece of history but I think its worth mentioning. Okay…. Thats the quick five minute? …… Cool?

The Detroit Opera House Cafe needs to be commended on doing such a splendid job with the food spread. You see everything in the menu was based on a character or a song in the play. Now maybe this is standard in live play culture or maybe I just need to get out more, ( I’d place my bet on the later). So you got a mixed drink called, “Cheer Up Charlie” (From the original film!) and then there is another one for Violet. I ended up with the ‘Wonka Hot Lava Cake” and it came with some sort of peppermint gelato. I was on cloud 9 and so were my guests.

THE CURTAIN OPENS

We sat in anticipation with a picture of Willy Wonka on the screen and he had his back turned to the audience. It was almost like a Magritte painting and the electricity in the air was buzzing. You see, it wasn’t just the very young who were at this theater but people of every age. This ranged from toddlers to seniors and it was apparent to me that the work of Roald Dahl has touched multiple generations and as also stood the test of time. This was going to be a really great event, and if I was reading the room right, tonight would be unforgettable.

The first thing that grabbed me was the set design. It was very tricky and careful consideration went into the preparation. Part of the set was 3D props and the screens behind held projection screens and 3D animation to create the illusion of a skyline and a city. There was a fluid motion from one scene to another and things moved accordingly to keep pace with the plot. The cast was incredible and most notably the boy who played the lead role of Charlie Bucket. His voice was so clear and youthful and charged with energy. You could hear him in the back rows of the Detroit Opera House and he was here to take us on a journey. I was literally on the edge of my seat and my it was exhilarating.

I went home to see if anyone else had submitted their pictures. I didn’t see a single entry from anyone! Can you believe that? By Tuesday I was kind of concerned that nobody else even considered to even put their pictures up on social media in hopes to win tickets. Are we this jaded and negative of a society? Or are we just too self absorbed? While I was deep in thought of this an incredible thing happened.

I got an alert on my Instagram from the folks at Broadway in Detroit informing me that I was the winner! Dreams do come true. I won not just one ticket but a total of four. Now I had to figure out who I was going to give them to. I had two extra tickets but they literally flew out of my hands the minute I opened my big mouth. Problem solved.

INSIDE THE OPERA HOUSE

I have to say the Detroit Opera House is a real treasure. It has been in existence since 1922 and was the host of vaudeville shows, theater and opera. This Grand Circus Park location is the Detroit Opera House’s 5th location. The DOH has a city history that goes back to 1869 and was once touted to be the fifth largest theater in the country. Inside are lavish red drapes, frescoes, chandeliers, and marble staircases. It is one of the great jewels of Detroit and it holds a lot of history.

Now I have to tell you that I had a Playbook for the show but it was snatched out of my hands by family and discarded. So I will do my best to tell you about this show by memory.

We were all there an hour early to make sure we would get our tickets. I was put on Will Call so I hung around the lobby like a greedy vulture until I got my tickets and they did arrive on time. I noticed the waiting room had pictures of famous acts that appeared there when the venue was turned into the Capital Theater. They carried many popular rock and roll acts of its day including Roy Orbison, and Ray Charles. I took note of some pop culture pictures of the B-52’s and the Plasmatics and the venue even showed, “The Tingler” with Vincent Price. That was a monster movie and every seat had an electric vibrator attached to it during the scary parts of the film. This was a hokey piece of history but I think its worth mentioning. Okay…. Thats the quick five minute? …… Cool?

The Detroit Opera House Cafe needs to be commended on doing such a splendid job with the food spread. You see everything in the menu was based on a character or a song in the play. Now maybe this is standard in live play culture or maybe I just need to get out more, ( I’d place my bet on the later). So you got a mixed drink called, “Cheer Up Charlie” (From the original film!) and then there is another one for Violet. I ended up with the ‘Wonka Hot Lava Cake” and it came with some sort of peppermint gelato. I was on cloud 9 and so were my guests.

THE CURTAIN OPENS

We sat in anticipation with a picture of Willy Wonka on the screen and he had his back turned to the audience. It was almost like a Magritte painting and the electricity in the air was buzzing. You see, it wasn’t just the very young who were at this theater but people of every age. This ranged from toddlers to seniors and it was apparent to me that the work of Roald Dahl has touched multiple generations and as also stood the test of time. This was going to be a really great event, and if I was reading the room right, tonight would be unforgettable.

The first thing that grabbed me was the set design. It was very tricky and careful consideration went into the preparation. Part of the set was 3D props and the screens behind held projection screens and 3D animation to create the illusion of a skyline and a city. There was a fluid motion from one scene to another and things moved accordingly to keep pace with the plot. The cast was incredible and most notably the boy who played the lead role of Charlie Bucket. His voice was so clear and youthful and charged with energy. You could hear him in the back rows of the Detroit Opera House and he was here to take us on a journey. I was literally on the edge of my seat and my it was exhilarating.

The first thing that really intrigued me about the actors was how articulate they were. The songs had plenty of lines to remember, steps, and the kids were so talented and made it look so easy. The live play follows the novel plotline and even has songs from the 1972 film. So you feel right home in the Willy Wonka universe but this play has some really incredible plot twists from the film.

Our main protagonist, Charlie Bucket, is the last to win a series of 5 Golden Tickets which were placed discreetly into bars of Wonka chocolate. The winners get to enter into Wonka’s secretive chocolate factory where “None go in and none come out’ and tour the place first hand. Charlie is the kind hearted out of all the kids who come from around the world to take in the prize.

International brats Augustus Gloop, (called Disgustus by Wonka) and Voilet are just as nasty as ever and they do get their just deserts. But some of these deviant kids get a new set of surprises not seen in the book or film. This includes a vicious group of squirrels which do unspeakable things to one of the guests! The lesson here is to respect your elders and to show kindness. The kids in the audience gasped and got the point and were enthralled.

The moving sets and animation were delivered through a complex arrangement of sliding curtains and screens. This allowed us into the jungles and a flashback sequence on the origins of the Oompa Loompas. These are little dwarf characters that Wonka rescues and then turns them into his factory helpers. From there they come into the plot and then share lessons on morality, judgment and good character. The kids loved them. They were delivered by puppeteers and special blacklighting that created the illusion of little people.

This is one incredible production and it needs to be seen by many people. I hope that it comes back for an encore run. I know there is another troupe taking off right now in Australia.

And hats off to the Detroit Opera House, Twelve Oaks Mall and Broadway In Detroit for allowing me to be this years winner of these awesome tickets. Remember, that we have some of the best performances right here in Detroit.

 


BROADWAY IN DETROIT!!   

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