M.C. Willie and the Music Factory | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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M.C. Willie and the Music Factory


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M.C. Willie and the Music Factory, ComedySportz. The troupe's resident piano player--Stephanie McCullough, who's said to have an encyclopedic knowledge of popular music--finally gets to put her money where her mouth is in this parody of the mind-expanding Technicolor romp Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Her score chews over two decades' worth of musical detritus, spitting out some brilliant hip-hop mash-ups of the "Oompah-Loompah" theme just begging to be adopted as club anthems.

McCullough and Aaron Marshall's script runs more or less parallel to their source, though the iced toadstools and candied shrubs have been traded in for a backdrop of Rube Goldberg musical contraptions and beat-making doodads. As in the original, the fate of the unbelievably vanilla protagonist--sensitive singer Pete, who wins entry to the eccentric production studio--is less interesting than the cruel punishments inflicted on his competitors. If anything the show is even more jaundiced than the film, but the performances are sidesplitting: Jason Anfinsen hijacks Eminem's "bizz-usted" flow as gangsta rapper Shrapnel, and Mary Jo Bolduc as M.C. Willie offers a hilariously fruity take on Gene Wilder's glazed-over man-child. You'd think that pairing a smart script with an anything-for-a-laugh approach would produce disastrous results, but this show has "instant classic" written all over it.

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