Sam Mendes will direct Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman’s musical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, according to Deadline.com. Mendes was already attached to the project as a producer. The musical completed a staged reading in New York this week and now intends to open in London in 2011 with a Broadway transfer following. In the meantime Shaiman and Wittman (the Tony-winning team behind Hairspray) will write additional songs for the show, while David Greig finishes the book. No casting has been announced.
The musical marks the third major incarnation of the story, about the adventures of a boy and his grandfather through the whimsical factory of an eccentric candy guru. The most recent version was Tim Burton's 2005 film adaptation, featuring Freddie Highmore as the title character and Johnny Depp as the factory owner Willy Wonka. Director Mel Stuart also transferred the story to the screen in 1971, with Gene Wilder starring as Willy Wonka. Both films incorporated musical numbers throughout their sugary tales, with the latter winning the Academy Award for Best Original Score. The 2005 film took some lyrics directly from Dahl's original poetry in the book.
Mendes, the director of films including American Beauty (for which he won an Oscar), Away We Go, Road to Perdition, Jarhead and Revolutionary Road, is the former artistic director of London's Donmar Warehouse. His Broadway credits include Cabaret, The Blue Room, Closer and Gypsy, and he has directed four classic productions for the trans-Atlantic Bridge Project, most recently As You Like It and The Tempest at BAM.