Jonathan Slinger is to don Willy Wonka’s top hat from 4 May when he takes over as the iconic chocolatier in the London musical theatre production of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory.
The acclaimed Shakespearean actor, who made his musical debut last year in cult hit Urinetown The Musical, will replace Alex Jennings in the lead role of the confectionary concocting genius.
The move to West End tuners is a new venture for the performer who has built a reputation as one of the finest classical performers of his generation. Among his Royal Shakespeare Company performances, Slinger has appeared as Hamlet, Macbeth, Richard II, Richard III, The Tempest’s Prospero and Twelfth Night’s Malvolio.
Slinger’s musical theatre debut came in 2014 when he created the role of Officer Lockstock in the Jamie Lloyd-directed production of Urinetown The Musical. The production opened at the St James Theatre before proving so successful that it earned a West End transfer.
When Slinger steps into the now iconic purple jacket of Willy Wonka, he will become the third Olivier Award winner to play the role since the production opened in the West End in the summer of 2013. Slinger collected a statuette as part of the ensemble of the RSC Histories Cycle that won for Best Company Performance in 2009. Original Willy Wonka Douglas Hodge and current owner of the famous sweetie factory Alex Jennings have also won the coveted statuette.
Based on Roald Dahl’s much-loved story, the musical hit tells the story of the impoverished Bucket family, the youngest of whom, Charlie, wins the chance to enter the near mythical factory of the world’s most eccentric sweet treat creator. But inside there are more surprises than he could even have imagined.
Directed by Oscar winner Sam Mendes, with songs by Hairspray’s Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman, and a book by Dunsinane playwright David Greig, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory is booking at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane until June 2016.
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