Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has enjoyed successful runs, being a hit with audiences despite experiencing the same harshness from critics and love from the people in the same way hit musical Wicked did. So it’s no surprise that it’s one of the most anticipated openings in the Sydney theatre season in 2019 as it promises to take generations young and old through a fantasy wonderland of nostalgia and discovery.
The Australian production team led by John Frost, Craig Donnell, Langley Park Productions and Neal Street Productions will see the stage incarnation heightened with spectacular effects courtesy of joint producer, WarnerBros Theatre Ventures. “We have found such a gloriously talented bunch of performers to create Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for Australia,” they said. “The world fell in love with Roald Dahl’s bewitching tale when the book was released, then filmgoers adored the 1971 film with Gene Wilder.”
The question though is whether it can replicate the revolutionary theatrical heights Matilda did, another Roald Dahl adaptation. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory introduces its popular characters to a whole new generation of viewers. “Securing the Australian premiere of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory further cements Sydney as the home of musical theatre and we can’t wait to see Charlie, the amazing Willy Wonka, Grandpa Joe and Mrs Bucket take the stage. I encourage everyone to buy their golden ticket, and to start planning their trip to Sydney.” said Adam Marshall, NSW Minister for Tourism and Major Events. He describes it as a major lure for visitors estimated to inject $37 million into the economy through 76,000 visitors expected to attend the performances running through the show’s four month season at the Capitol Theatre.
Getting to know Charlie:
The story centres around Charlie Bucket who lives with his mother and his four grandparents in a little wooden house near a great town, and is the final child to find a Golden Ticket – the coveted pass that gives access to the holder into the magical world of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. The principal role will be shared between these four actors:
OLIVER ALKHAIR – At eleven years of age, Panania local, Oliver, is a keen acting, singing and dance student with an interest in writing and plays the trumpet. Oliver was the winner of the 2018 State Shakespeare Carnival and recent theatre roles included Tommy in Miracle on 34th Street, Dash in Camp Rock and Iago in Aladdin Jnr. In 2017 Oliver made his professional debut in the role of Young Charlie in the Sydney season of Kinky Boots.
TOMMY BLAIR – Tommy began his musical theatre performing in 2015 at the age of eight in his home town, Engadine Musical
Society’s My Son Pinocchio as The Perfect Child. He has enjoyed a number of roles over the past three years including Michael Banks in Mary Poppins, Young Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors and the storyteller in Shrek Jr. Tommy is in Year 5 at St John Bosco Primary School in Engadine, and enjoys playing the piano, lego, singing and playing soccer.
XION JARVIS – The youngest of the Charlie’s casted, this Burwood local’s debut performance at age six in Oliver won him a Gold Coast Theatre Lucky Grills Magic Moment Of Theatre Award. Xion has appeared in lead roles in television commercials and music theatre productions including Shrek Jnr, Pinocchio and Disney’s Aladdin Jnr. Young Charlie in the Sydney season of Kinky Boots in 2017 marked Xion’s professional debut which he followed up with the role of Benji in the Sydney season of Priscilla Queen of the Desert.
RYAN YEATES – The oldest of the four, he has also won state and national titles in Irish dancing. Ryan recently performed with Opera Australia in the Sydney season of Carmen. He has also featured in numerous Wiggles stage and television productions including the role of Junior Purple Wiggle Lachy in the ABC TV Series Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle. Ryan has appeared in an ABCMe promotion, the short film ZombieBro and also enjoys playing guitar, bass and drums. The recipient of an acting scholarship at MacDonald College of Performing Arts, he recently played the lead role in their production of Oliver.
Double casting (well in this case, Quadruple) is hard enough for a Director having to block a scene multiple times, inevitably deal with the risk in comparison or competition, but it also allows for the show and role to be approached in different ways because of the different shades each actor will bring to Charlie.
LUCY MAUNDER (Mrs Bucket) – Playing Charlie’s mother, Lucy has cemented her reputation as one of Australia’s musical theatre leading ladies, currently performing in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, playing songwriter Cynthia Weil. Prior to this she was on tour in New Zealand, Adelaide and Perth in Matilda: The Musical, where she played the endearing Miss Honey and was nominated for a 2017 Helpmann Award for Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical.
Lucy starred in the critically-acclaimed Australian première of Heathers: The Musical, playing queen mean girl Heather Chandler. She created the role of Patty in the new Australian musical Ladies in Black (QTC/MTC) and starred in Grease as Rizzo (Gordon Frost Organisation), earning Helpmann, Glug and Sydney Theatre Award nominations for the show’s Australian and Asian tour. Her other career highlights include Georgia Hendricks in Curtains (The Production Company), Cinderella in Into the Woods (Victorian Opera; Helpmann and Green Room Award nominations for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical), Gertrude Lawrence in Noël and Gertie (CDP; Glugs Award for Best Actress in a Musical); Polly Peachum in The Threepenny Opera (STC/ Malthouse/ Victorian Opera), Janet in The Rocky Horror Show (TML Enterprises), Emma Carew in Jekyll and Hyde (TML Enterprises), Anne Egerman in A Little Night Music (Opera Australia), Carly in Neil LaBute’s Reasons to Be Pretty (Darlinghurst Theatre), Young Mary O’Hara in The Harp on the Willow (Malcolm Cooke & Associates) and Gale Edwards’ The New Rocky Horror Show (New Theatricals/Dainty).
Lucy’s screen credits include the short film Identical, the feature film The Eternity Man (ABC/Channel 4 UK) and numerous television appearances including Carols in the Domain, Mornings, The Morning Show and Mornings with Kerri-Anne. In 2015 Lucy was invited to sing the national anthem in Brisbane for the NRL State of Origin Final. Lucy’s one-woman show Irving Berlin: Songs in the Key of Black toured
Australia and received rave reviews (available on iTunes).
The legendary character of Willy Wonka, the extraordinary chocolate maker the world has ever seen, will be played by PAUL SLADE-SMITH. He is currently appearing in the Broadway revival of My Fair Lady at Lincoln Center, and was part of the original Broadway cast of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, appearing as Grandpa George. Previously he performed in Finding Neverland on Broadway, and took over the roles of Charles Frohman and Captain Hook from Kelsey Grammer. He has also appeared in Wicked as Doctor Dillamond and The Phantom of the Opera.
The stage incarnation of Charlie and the Chocolate factory promises a flamboyant display in costumery, lavish sets coupled with projections and technical innovations courtesy of Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures. There’s a lot of investment in this show with Warner Bros. already planning to adapt “Beetlejuice” and “A Star is Born” to the stage too. In bringing the movie to the stage, many of the lyrics and songs from the original remaining with new songs written especially for the musical. In all the visual feasting that is expected, the verdict is still out on how or if the original book by Roald Dahl will still retain the humanity its audiences first fell in love with. Tickets are now available for the season, evening performances running from Wednesday to Saturday and Matinee Performances on Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.
Venue: Capitol Theatre, Campbell Street, Haymarket
Season: From 5 January 2019, selling to 19 May
Wed-Sat 7.30pm, Matinees Tues & Wed 1pm, Sat 2pm, Sun 1pm and 6pm*
Prices: From $59.90
Buy tickets here or 1300 795 267
Groups 12+ call 1300 889 278