Roald Dahl allegedly wrote “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” for children, but he struck a chord with adults as well with his 1964 story of a young British boy’s visit to a magical candy factory run by the eccentric Willy Wonka.
The chocolate pumping machines and the small Oompa-Loompas who operate them make for a captivating backdrop for a story about the cost of gluttony and greed.
The novel, with its slightly sinister undertones and subtle wit, has been adapted many times, for films, games, radio and stage productions, including a musical comedy version that was performed on Broadway in 2017-18. A national touring production of that show is currently on stage at Hershey Theatre through Sunday.
Hershey’s show is an updated replica of the Broadway set, using LED projections around the stage to buttress the efforts of show stars Noah Weisberg (as Wonka) and alternating Charlies Henry Boshart, Brendan Reilly Harris and Rueby Wood. Tony Award winner Jack O’Brien is the director.
The musical comedy’s songs, by Tony winners Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, include the breakout hit “Pure Imagination.”
ABBA on stage
Romance on a Greek island and a little paternal mystery pump new life into timeless ABBA songs in “Mamma Mia!”, a recent Broadway smash now finding its way to the stage of Allenberry Playhouse.
The show opens Friday and runs through Sept. 29 at the historic theater on the grounds of the Allenberry Resort near Boiling Springs. The song-and-dance musical is guaranteed to have patrons leaving the theater humming, and possibly cast members gasping for breath back stage.
“There is a lot of choreography, but music is the real beast (in this show),” said Dustin LeBlanc, artistic director of Keystone Productions, which is staging the Allenberry production. “The ensemble sings in every song in the show except one.”
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The 1970s Swedish supergroup known as ABBA — an acronym of the first letters of the first names of group members Agnetha Faltskog, Bjorn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad — has never really gone out of style. Between 1974 and 1982, they cranked out an impressive string of international hits like “Dancing Queen,” “Money, Money, Money,” “Super Trouper,” “Voulez-Vous,” “Take a Chance on Me” and, of course, “Mamma Mia.”
The group broke up in the 1980s, but achieved a rebirth of sorts in 1999 with the opening of “Mamma Mia!” in London’s West End theater district. An instant hit there and later on Broadway, the winning formula combined the songs of Andersson and Ulvaeus with a book by Catherine Johnson.
The plot is admittedly thin: On the eve of her wedding, a daughter’s quest to discover the identity of her father brings three men back to the island they last visited 20 years ago. But it’s pliable enough to work in an array of ABBA greats during its two and a half hour running time.
“Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” is so Southern you can practically smell the grits and hear the tinkling of ice in bourbon glasses as members of a dysfunctional Mississippi plantation family wrestle with sexual desire, lies, alcoholism, deception, death and repression.
Playwright Tennessee Williams often said that “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” for which he won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1955, was his personal favorite among his plays, an impressive roster that includes “A Streetcar Named Desire,” “The Glass Menagerie” and “The Night of the Iguana.”
Oyster Mill Playhouse is preparing to stage its own production of this adult drama from Sept. 27 through Oct. 13 at the small community theater in East Pennsboro Twp. The show features adult themes that may be too mature for young children.
Set in the Mississippi delta plantation home of Big Daddy Pollitt, a wealthy cotton tycoon, the play examines the relationships among members of Big Daddy’s family, particularly between his son Brick and Maggie the “Cat,” Brick’s wife. The family gathers to celebrate the dying Big Daddy’s birthday, but secrets soon begin to unravel that will change the family forever.