Willy Wonka in Norwich

Out & About

Gareth Snook is a West End stalwart starring in The Phantom of the Opera, Les Mis and now the tour of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory the Musical, which is heading to Norwich Theatre Royal between 19 – 29 Apr.

The show is inspired by the magic of the Road Dahl book, in which lucky Charlie wins a golden ticket to explore Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Gareth is really excited to be playing the chocolatier Willy Wonka: “Wonka is a mercurial character. He’s everything you want him to be, which is great fun to play despite his cynicism and how sinister he is sometimes. You might say he’s as layered as a gobstopper!”

With such a famous character, many people have their interpretation of Willy Wonka. It can be a lot of pressure, but Gareth has taken it all in his stride. “I watched the films when they came out, and I’ve revisited them again for research purposes, but because I came to the book late, it offered me the opportunity to have an open mind with my interpretation.”

Gareth continued: “I do have a strange affinity with the character. I don’t know whether that’s a good or bad thing! He’s a complex character, but I do understand his frustrations and disappointments.”

The magic of the Chocolate Factory has stood the test of time, with the lucky children going beyond the Wonka gates to discover more than just the remarkable edible delights. For Gareth, the story is a testament to Road Dahl’s brilliant writing, “All of the characters, from Wonka to Charlie and all the children, have been written so vividly that they’re enticing. They all come from such different backgrounds, so kids can relate to them and their families.

Although they are all, in some ways, spoilt and excessive, and are allowed to be by their parents, kids can relate to this and find the enjoyment in it, especially when they get their just desserts. The story really has got everything… and who doesn’t like chocolate!”

However, for all its spectacle and West End razzmatazz, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory doesn’t shy away from the darker elements of Dahl’s tale as spoilt kids meet all manner of sticky ends in the chocolate factory.

The musical combines the memorable songs from the original 1970s motion picture (The Candy Man and Pure Imagination) with all new numbers from the multi award-winning songwriters of Hairspray. “There are so many nods to different musical genres, from pop to heartfelt ballads and big dancing theatrical numbers. Wonka also has a brilliant patter song at the top of Act 2. It really has got everything in it!” adds Gareth.

Between the story, the music, the dance, the spectacular set and the wonderful cast, Gareth reckons people are in for a sweet treat with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. “I hope audiences leave with a tear in their eye and a big smile on their face. I think the production is very moving, especially towards the end, and it is great fun. I’d love to sit out and watch it myself!”

The Golden Ticket questions

Do you have a sweet tooth?

Oh my god, I have such a sweet tooth. My vice is chocolate, and I’m not just saying that. But I have been so good at limiting my sugar intake doing this show – there are only so many times the wardrobe department can expand the waist of my trousers!

If you could invent your own Wonka chocolate bar, what would it be?

I mean, I would eat anything in chocolate, but I’d want to combine mint and orange, as they’re my two favourite flavours.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory the Musical is at Norwich Theatre Royal between 19 -29 Apr for more information visit norwichtheatre.org or contact the box office on 01603 630 000.

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