The Producers of the Helpmann Award nominated spectacular, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, have announced the five boys who will play the role of Charlie Bucket in the Melbourne season of Roald Dahl’s delicious musical at Her Majesty’s Theatre from 9 August following an outstanding six-month season at Sydney’s Capitol Theatre.
Benjamin Belsey (10 years of age, from Point Cook), Elijah Slavinskis (10, Ashburton), Edgar Stirling (10, St Kilda), Lenny Thomas (12, Bonbeach) and Lachlan Young (13, Camberwell) will share the role of 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.
Willy Wonka, the most amazing, fantastic, extraordinary chocolate maker the world has ever seen, is played by Paul Slade Smith, who has been nominated as Best Actor in a Musical at this year’s Helpmann Awards. Slade Smith was part of the original Broadway cast of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, appearing as Grandpa George, then appeared in the Broadway revival of My Fair Lady at Lincoln Center. 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.
Ninety-and-a-half-year-old Grandpa Joe, an enthusiastic storyteller and eternal optimist, will be played by Australian show business royalty Tony Sheldon, also Helpmann Award nominated for this role. Sheldon is best known for playing the role of Bernadette in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert for over 2,000 performances in Australia, New Zealand, London, Toronto and on Broadway, winning the Theatre World Award and nominations for the Tony Award as Best Actor in a Musical, the Drama Desk Award, the Drama League Award and the Outer Critics Circle Award.
In the role of Mrs Bucket, a kind, caring mother and a woman of few words, will be Lucy Maunder, nominated for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical at the Helpmann Awards. Most recently Lucy played songwriter Cynthia Weil in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, and prior to that starred in Matilda: The Musical and for the Gordon Frost Organisation, as Lara in Dr Zhivago and Rizzo in Grease.
Jake Fehily and Octavia Barron Martin play Augustus Gloop and Mrs Gloop, Karina Russell and Stephen Anderson are Veruca Salt and Mr Salt, Jayme-Lee Hanekom plays Violet Beauregard with Madison McKoy as Mr Beauregard, and Harrison Riley and Jayde Westaby are Mike Teavee and his mother Mrs Teavee.
Completing the wonderfully talented cast are Johanna Allen, Sheridan Anderson, Hayden Baum, Kanen Breen, Bayley Edmends, Bronte Florian, Todd Goddard, Madison Green, David Hammond, Sasha Lian-Diniz, Aaron Lynch, Jordan Malone, Kassie Martin, Phoenix Mendoza, Joseph Naim, Adam Noviello, Glen Oliver, Danielle O’Malley, Jackson Reedman, Emma Russell, Taylor Scanlan and Thalia Smith.
The producers are thrilled with their brilliant child cast. “We have found five gloriously talented local boys to perform opposite the rest of the fantastic cast in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” 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. Now this fabulous cast will enchant Melbourne audiences with the story once again on stage.”
“This is such a wonderful story for generations to share,” added John Frost. “Parents love sharing their favourite Willy Wonka film from their childhood with the whole family, and grandparents love taking their grandkids. The role of Charlie is huge – he’s rarely off stage for the whole show – so find five fantastic Charlie Buckets to bring this story to life is thrilling.”
Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory features direction by three-time Tony Award winner Jack O’Brien, music by Grammy, Emmy and Tony Award winner Marc Shaiman, lyrics by Grammy and Tony Award winners Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman, a book by Artistic Director of Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum theatre David Greig, choreography by Tony Award nominee and Emmy Award winner Joshua Bergasse, and includes additional songs by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley from the 1971 Warner Bros motion picture.
Scenic and costume design is by five-time Tony Award nominee Mark Thompson, lighting design by four-time Tony Award nominee Japhy Weideman, sound design by Andrew Keister, projection design by Jeff Sugg, puppet and illusion design by Obie and Drama Desk Award winner Basil Twist, and music supervision by Nicholas Skilbeck.
Step inside a world of pure imagination. Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is the perfect recipe for a delectable treat: songs from the original film including Pure Imagination, The Candy Man and I’ve Got a Golden Ticket. Experience the wonders of Wonka like never before – get ready for the Oompa-Loompas, incredible inventions, the great glass elevator and more, more, more at this everlasting showstopper!
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory continues at Sydney’s Capitol Theatre until 21 July, before playing Melbourne’s Her Majesty’s Theatre from 9 August 2019, and Brisbane’s Lyric Theatre – QPAC from March 2020. For more information and tickets, visit: www.charliethemusical.com.au for details.
Image: Lachlan Young, Benjamin Belsey, Elijah Slavinskis, Lenny Thomas and Edgar Stirling are to star as Charlie in the Melbourne season of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – photo by Jeff Busby