The saga of the Glasgow Willy Wonka experience is being made into a musical

Good news for fans of "The Unknown": the viral Willy Wonka experience is hitting the stage.

We all remember where we were when the news of the Glasgow Willy Wonka experience broke. Though chatter around the event has died down two weeks on, it was a landmark moment in not just UK culture, but the wider history of things-turning-out-to-be-shit-and-half-arsed. Quick recap for those unfamiliar with the whole affair? It would be our pleasure. During a weekend in February, the police (yes) were called to an event that described itself as a “celebration of chocolate in all its delightful forms” when those who’d paid £35 for a ticket were left stunned by just how lacklustre it turned out to be. On X, pictures made the rounds of a sparse warehouse with a few Wonka-themed probs and a rather depressed looking Oompa Loompa, while videos emerged of a character event organisers called “The Unknown”, an evil chocolate maker that, apparently, hides in the walls of the factory. Children who popped down to the Wonka experience were given not only a fright (in one video, you hear them scream when The Unknown emerges from behind an IKEA mirror), but some jellybeans and a small glass of Barr’s lemonade.

Where are we going with this? While we’d like nothing more than to go on a deep-dive of this unforgettable cultural moment, we’re revisiting the Wonka experience because it’s now being turned into a satirical musical called Willy Fest: A Musical Parody… Obviously. Yesterday it was announced that top Broadway producers including Doug Rockwell (High School Musical: The Musical) and Richard Kraft (The Little Mermaid) would be taking everything that occurred in a lowly building in the Scottish city and turning it into a musical extravaganza. “While most see nothing but wreckage in a disaster of this magnitude, we all think it screams out: Musical!!” said songwriters Alan Zachary & Michael Weiner in a joint statement on Willy Fest. Another songwriter attached to the project is Daniel Mertzlufft who is, of course, the man behind the viral sensation Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical.

Willy Fest is aiming for a late 2024 debut. Until then? There’s plenty of other ways you can get your fix of the infamous Wonka experience at the heart of all this. Just days ago, it was announced that the teenage actress behind The Unknown, 16-year-old Felicia, has been offered a role at the London Dungeon. “I’m a huge fan of The Dungeons across the UK” she said in a video statement on her newly-acquired acting gig. “I’ve visited many times as a guest, and I can’t quite believe I now get to be the one who’s scaring the public. Who would have thought my wild Wonka experience would have led me to this!” If you don’t fancy battling the swaths of tourists in order to catch a glimpse of the genius behind The Unknown anytime soon, you can also pour over Vulture‘s exclusive interview with the sad Oompa Loompa. Of the many interesting takeaways from that, the one that takes the cake has to be that actress Kirsty Paterson was forced to ration the jellybeans to “three per kid”.

WriterAmber Rawlings
Banner Image CreditWonka / Village Roadshow Pictures