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A ‘Willy Wonka’ Musical Parody Inspired by Viral Disaster Is in the Works

A new musical is hoping to turn a disastrous Willy Wonka experience into a golden ticket.

Willy Fest: A Musical Parody will take inspiration from a Scottish event that went viral last month for all the wrong reasons. The event was billed as an “immersive experience” that would put Willy Wonka fans into a “magical realm.” Its organizers used lush AI-generated photos to attract customers, who upon arriving, found themselves in a drab wearhouse customers compared to a meth lab.

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Willy Fest is planned as a live event for late 2024, and hails from producer Richard Kraft, known for ABC’s The Little Mermaid Live, who will produce via his Kraft-Engel Productions. He has assembled a team of writers and musicians to bring the project to fruition.

“While it is quite common for there to be writers’ rooms in television, taking that approach with theatrical songwriters is fairly unique and likely to produce amazingly satirical and unexpected results,” said Kraft in a statement. The producer has experience in the world of Wonka, having directed Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory in Concert at the Hollywood Bowl.

The talent behind the project also includes Riki Lindhome, an Emmy nominee known for the musical group Garfunkel and Oates and the TV series Another Period; Tova Litvin and Doug Rockwell, who won an Emmy for High School Musical: The Musical: The Series; Broadway songwriters Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner, known for ABC’s Once Upon a Time; and TikTok songwriter Daniel Mertzlufft, who was behind Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical.

“This could be Waiting For Guffman but with scam artists” said Lindhome in a statement.

The original event, called Willy’s Chocolate Experience, charged $44 each to attend. Actor Paul Connell, who was among three actors hired to play Wonka, later remarked that he was sent a script that was “15 pages of AI-generated gibberish of me just monologuing these mad things.” In addition to the musical, a B-horror movie inspired by the event is in the works.

As for the musical parody, Kraft concluded, “If Ed Wood and P.T. Barnum got into ‘environmental experiences’ fueled by a million dreams and zero dollars, it might turn out like this. While most see nothing but wreckage in a disaster of this magnitude, we all think it screams out: MUSICAL!!”

Ricki Lindholme, Richard Kraft
Ricki Lindholme, Richard Kraft

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