Charlie Bucket has been found and he has a Golden Ticket! Producers John Frost, Craig Donnell, Warner Bros Theatre Ventures, Langley Park Productions and Neal Street Productions today announced the five boys who will play the role of Charlie in the Melbourne season of the Helpmann Award nominated spectacular new musical Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Roald Dahl’s delicious tale will begin at Melbourne’s Her Majesty’s Theatre on 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 in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Charlie 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.”