Alex Jennings to play Willy Wonka

Published February 7, 2014

Triple Olivier Award winner Alex Jennings will take over from Douglas Hodge as eccentric confectioner Willy Wonka in Sam Mendes’ hit musical Charlie And The Chocolate Factory.

Jennings, who last appeared in the West End in the National Theatre’s acclaimed Alan Bennett double bill Untold Stories, will make his first appearance in the sugar-coated show on 19 May.

The National Theatre regular, who has won a clutch of London theatre’s most prestigious accolades from his roles in dramas, musicals and comedies, is renowned for his stage work. His credits include The Habit Of Art, Stuff Happens and Collaborators at the South Bank venue, the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Peer Gynt and West End productions of The Importance Of Being Earnest and My Fair Lady. On screen, he has appeared in hit film The Queen and television series including Hancock And Joan, Being Human and Cranford.

Featuring music and lyrics by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman with a book by David Greig, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory tells Roald Dahl’s classic tale of a poor boy who finds one of five golden tickets allowing him on a tour of Wonka’s treat-filled factory.

When the musical opened at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in June 2013 it was described by Official London Theatre’s Charlotte Marshall as “a slick and visually spectacular take on the classic [that] retains all of Dahl’s deliciously dark, wickedly witty elements.”

The production, which has already been seen by more than half a million people, recently extended its run in the West End until 30 May 2015. The new booking period means that even more theatregoers now have the chance to journey inside Wonka’s world of Oompa-Loompas, dancing rodents and mouth-watering sweets.