photo courtesy of Allied Integrated Marketing
Roald Dahl’s story of a boy and his wild journey through Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory is a classic one. It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t know and love it, who didn’t wish they could receive a Golden Ticket to such a wonderful place, who didn’t believe in the power of imagination…and who isn’t thinking about grabbing a piece of chocolate after they are done reading this.
The stage musical, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, debuted on London’s West End in 2013 and ran for three and a half years. In 2017, the show was reworked for Broadway. It’s now touring the US for the first time and you can catch Charlie Bucket, Willy Wonka, and the rest of the Golden Ticket winners at the Kimmel Center’s Academy of Music from November 6th to November 8th.
Broadway actress Brynn Williams, most recently seen in SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical, plays gum-chewing, self-centered Violet Beauregarde (one of the five children who come to tour Wonka’s legendary factory). Now on the road with the show, Williams took some time to tell us all about her role and why we should all go see Charlie & the Chocolate Factory in Philadelphia.
Q: You play Violet Beauregarde in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. How did you prepare for this role? And how are you similar to Violet in real life?
A: When I first found out I was playing Violet, most of my preparation went into teaching myself how to blow bubbles. I bought 10 different packs of bubble gum to chew and practice with. I wasn’t allowed to chew gum as a kid (my mom said it was a “choking hazard”), but For Violet it’s second nature. I had to work to get to the point where I was comfortable with it. It was by far the most fun thing I’ve done to prepare for a role! One way that I’m similar to Violet is that we both LOVE Instagram. I’m constantly looking for post-worthy moments. It’s definitely my favorite social media outlet. Plus we both share a love of sparkly clothes.
Q: Violet is such a well-known character, as is the story of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. What’s it like to step into something that people know and love so much?
A: Stepping into such a well-known role in such a beloved story is the best working vacation imaginable! I grew up with this story. My mom used to read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to me every night before bed when I was little. So now being able to travel to different cities and be a part of telling that same story to audiences all over the country is the most wonderful and surreal feeling.
Q: You just started the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory tour. Aside from being out on the road and in different cities, how is being in a touring cast different than being in one place on Broadway?
A: The biggest way that touring is different from Broadway is the consistency and familiarity of the backstage crew. On Broadway, we meet our entire team on our first day in the theater. We learn the names of our stagehands, dressers, orchestra pit members, the stage door security guards, and they are as much a part of the routine and family as the cast is. On tour things are done a little differently. The two or three heads of each department travel with us and then local hires or “locals” join us in the city we’re in to round out the rest of the team. That means that we have a constant revolving door of fresh faces and backstage life never gets stale. This way we get to make new connections with theatre people all over the country! It really is incredible!
Q: What is your favorite musical number and/or scene in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?
A:“Pure Imagination” has always been one of my favorite songs ever written so I’m a little biased regarding my favoritism. But I love all of the new songs written by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman too! As far as scenes go, any moment with an Oompa Loompa is an automatic win!<
Q: What have been some of your favorite roles or Broadway experiences to date?
A: My favorite Broadway experience would have to be three years ago when I worked on the musical Lazarus. It was Mr. David Bowie’s last project. He was in my final audition and would randomly drop in on rehearsals or performances. We found out that he passed away two weeks before we closed, on the day we recorded our cast album. The show took on a whole new meaning for us. He really was a genius! I could talk forever about how earth shattering working on that show was. I am so honored to have that experience. It’s a hard one to beat. I wouldn’t change it for the world!
Q:Why do you think the people in our city should come out and see the show?
A: People in every city should come see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for SO many reasons! We have a phenomenal cast, a legendary creative team, and a story that everyone knows and loves! Whether you love the book, the movies, or the Broadway show, it’s the perfect balance of nostalgia and new material. At its heart, it’s just a beautiful story about the power of imagination and a little boy who wants to be an inventor.