Coinciding with World Chocolate Day, the full cast of Queensland’s premiere season of Roald Dahl’s ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ has been announced.
Following auditions of more than 300 hopeful artists in Brisbane and around the country, and a comprehensive search, 15 artists were thrilled to have received a “Golden Ticket”. They join 22 cast members of the multi-Helpmann Award-nominated musical returning from the Sydney and Melbourne seasons.
The full company includes 10 Queenslanders playing lead and ensemble roles.
In the role of Charlie Bucket, three Queensland boys will have their chance to meet Willy Wonka himself, including Phineaus Knickerbocker (13 Mackenzie), Cooper Matthews, (12 Paddington) and Flynn Nowlan, (13 Nerang). Edgar Stirling (12) will also play Charlie, reprising the role from the Melbourne season of the production.
In the aforementioned title role of Willy Wonka – the most fantastic, chocolate maker the world has ever seen- is Stephen Anderson, who is delighted to be re-joining the cast of ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ having previously played Mr Salt in premiere Sydney and Melbourne seasons. Anderson’s most recent theatre roles included playing Father Alex in ‘Mamma Mia!’ and he was an original cast member of the Australian and New Zealand tour of ‘Matilda the Musical’ playing Sergei (understudying Miss Trunchbull and Mr Wormwood). His other theatre credits include ‘Falsettos’ (Darlinghurst Theatre Company) for which he was nominated for a Sydney Theatre Award: Judith Johnson Award for Best Performance by an Actor; ‘Man of La Mancha’ (Squabbalogic); ‘The Light in the Piazza’ (NIDA); and ‘A Year with Frog and Toad’ (Ensemble Theatre); as well as working extensively with Tall Stories and CDP Theatre Producers, including the original Australian productions of ‘The Gruffalo’, ‘The Gruffalo’s Child’ and ‘Room on the Broom’.
Ninety-and-a-half-year-old Grandpa Joe – an enthusiastic storyteller and eternal optimist – is to be played by acclaimed actor, Robert Grubb, who will be well known to audiences from his extensive work within Australian theatre, film and television. Robert was most recently seen in ‘Billy Elliot’ as George, the boxing coach; ‘My Fair Lady’ as Alfred Doolittle for Opera Australia, for which he received a Helpmann nomination; the title role in Ken Hill’s ‘The Phantom of the Opera” and Pop in ‘We Will Rock You’, which earned him a Helpmann Award for Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role. Robert’s film credits include ‘Waiting at the Royal’, ‘Paradise Road’, ‘Phar Lap’, Peter Weir’s ‘Gallipoli’ and ‘My Brilliant Career’, for which he received the industry’s award for Best Supporting Actor. Robert also has a long list of TV credits to his name including Dr Geoff Standish in ‘The Flying Doctors’ and most recently played Detective Graves in ‘Neighbours’. He is also still warmly remembered as Barry Boston in ‘Seachange’.
Reprising the role of Mrs Bucket – a kind, caring mother and a woman of few words – will be musical theatre star, Lucy Maunder, who was nominated for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical at the Helpmann Awards for this role. Recent previous roles for Lucy include playing songwriter Cynthia Weil in ‘Beautiful: The Carole King Musical’, prior to that starring in ‘Matilda: The Musical’, as Lara in ‘Dr Zhivago’ and Rizzo in ‘Grease’.
The role of Augustus Gloop will be played by Jaxon Graham Wilson who originates from Ipswich, with Mrs Gloop played by Octavia Barron Martin. Karina Russell and Simon Russell are Veruca Salt and Mr Salt, Tarisai Vushe plays Violet Beauregard with Madison McKoy as Mr Beauregard, and Taylor Scanlan and Johanna Allen are Mike Teavee and his Mother, Mrs Teavee.
Completing the talented cast are Sheridan Anderson, Lily Baulderstone, Hayden Baum, Jared Bryan, Emily Casey, Lauren Cheok, Euan Doidge, Todd Goddard, Madison Green, Jillian Green, David Hammond, James Haxby, Sasha Lian-Diniz, Kassie Martin, Katie McKee, Ana Mitsikas, Josh Mulheran, Adam Noviello, Glen Oliver, Bronson Pfeiler, Jackson Reedman and Celina Yuen.
Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) and producers John Frost for Crossroads Live, Craig Donnell, Warner Bros Theatre Ventures, Langley Park Productions and Neal Street Productions shared their enthusiasm with the calibre of the cast secured to play roles in the first-ever Queensland season of ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’. On behalf of the show’s producers, John Frost spoke of his excitement.
“We are thrilled to have three such talented local boys playing the role of Charlie, to be joined by one of our fabulous Melbourne Charlies. The role of Charlie is huge – he’s rarely off stage for the whole show – so it’s great to have four young artists ready to portray this much-loved titular character,” said Frost.
“In addition, our search has found an amazing group of accomplished triple threat artists, many who live in or have connections with Queensland, to perform alongside our sensational returning cast members in lead and ensemble roles.
“This full cast announcement is an exciting milestone. It brings us one step closer to sharing this beloved story that has captured hearts, firstly with Roald Dahl’s bewitching tale, then with the 1971 Gene Wilder film. Now this fabulous cast is set to enchant Brisbane audiences, young and old, as they bring the magic of this nostalgic story to life on stage.”
In this stage adaption of the much-loved Roald Dahl classic, 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 to tour the Wonka Chocolate Factory. The production features songs from the original film including ‘Pure Imagination’, ‘The Candy Man’ and ‘I’ve Got a Golden Ticket’ alongside a toe-tapping and ear-tickling new score from the songwriters of ‘Hairspray’.
Sweetening this cast announcement even further is also the news that the season has extended for an extra week, falling within the September school holidays. ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ will now run from 2 to 26 September 2021 with new seats on sale today.
It’s time to book a tasty theatre treat!
‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ plays in QPAC’s Lyric Theatre from 2 to 26 September 2021. Tickets are available at QPAC’s website or by calling 136-246.
Title Photography by Jeff Busby.