Scottish Willy Wonka Fan Experience Disaster Has Spawned a Parody Musical | Playbill

On the Rialto Scottish Willy Wonka Fan Experience Disaster Has Spawned a Parody Musical

After photos of the underwhelming event went viral, this failed event has become an embarrassment of riches.

Unless you've been living under a rock for the last month, you've no doubt heard of the ill-fated Scottish Willy Wonka-related "immersive" fan event in Glasgow. That story has now progressed to its next most natural stop, a parody musical.

While not officially connected to any major property, the event was clearly designed to piggyback on the renewed interest in the Roald Dahl story as the prequel movie musical Wonka became a holiday hit at the box office. But while fans were promised an opulent movie-like experience, photos show a much different situation was ultimately offered. To translate for theatre fans, it was a little like John Doyle or Jamie Lloyd directed Willy Wonka—but sans taste. Attendees wanted to view paradise, but simply looked around and viewed concrete. (In event organizers House of Illuminati's defense, it did more or less defy explanation.)

In short, children cried, parents called police, and the fiasco was over scarcely before it had even begun—or so we thought.

Viral attention around the event made short-lived stars of some of its participants, with actors hired to play Willy Wonka McDuff (this was an unlicensed event, after all), and Oompa Loompas Wonkidoodles making the rounds to various press outlets in the days following. Memes have abounded. A particularly creepy (and not in any way Willy Wonka-connected) character, "The Unknown," has reportedly inspired an in-development horror film. Stage favorites Linus Karp (Diana: The Untold and Untrue Story), Joseph Martin (Gwyneth Goes Skiing), Rob Madge (My Son's a Queer), and Kate Butch (RuPaul's Drag Race UK) are even doing a live "quiz and game experience" inspired by the fiasco at London's Clapham Grand April 3.

And so, of course, we have now circled around to the probably unavoidable parody musical take on the incident. The show is titled Willy Fest, a musical parody, and is the brainchild of Richard Kraft of Kraft-Engel Productions. The project features a large writing team comprising Riki Lindhome of Garfunkel and Oates, Tova Litvin and Doug Rockwell of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, Broadway First Date writers Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner, and Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical's Daniel Mertzlufft.

In press notes, Lindhome describes the project's potential as "Waiting For Guffman but with scam artists." 

Kraft says the large team is inspired by the TV industry. "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," he shares in a statement. He goes on to describe the original event as "if Ed Wood and P.T. Barnum got into 'environmental experiences' fueled by a million dreams and zero dollars."

Kraft hopes that this musical will launch by the end of the year. But given the inspiration, all bets are off and anything is possible. Stay tuned.

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