BWW Interviews: Jonathan Slinger, Talking CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY!

By: Jun. 01, 2015
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When we speak, Jonathan Slinger is a couple of weeks into his run as Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. He's had a lot of press interviews lately, and combined with the strenuous performance schedule, it's no wonder he's a touch tired.

"It's absolutely exhausting. I wasn't really prepared for just how exhausting it is. I rather arrogantly thought, 'Well, I've played Hamlet, how difficult can this be?'" he confesses, with a laugh. "Somebody pointed out you're using both sides of your brain at the same time - your emotional side is acting away, and the metronomic side is counting beats and rhythms. I'm not the world's greatest multi-tasker, and musical theatre is the ultimate in multi-tasking from a performance point of view."

He's enjoying the show, though, and the theatre.

"I am loving it! I'm really enjoying it!" he adds quickly. "It's a stunning theatre. It's big - but once you're playing it, it doesn't feel as big, it feels relatively intimate. I have the world's greatest dressing room. It's ridiculous. It's like a flat - absolutely gorgeous. I've never had a dressing room on my own before, and certainly never one on this scale."

In his career so far he's perhaps been best known for his Shakespearean roles - but that took a sharp turn when he starred as Officer Lockstock in Urinetown.

"I wasn't anticipating a sideways step into this world, really," he says.

But that wasn't his musical theatre debut.

"I started out as a kid doing amateur shows doing musicals - all of the big ones, South Pacific, Carousel, Mack and Mabel," he reveals. "I feel like I've come full circle. One of my earliest memories is going backstage and being intoxicated by this world, this highly-charged atmosphere."

"I read the book again when we were rehearsing - he's relatively benign in that. The dark, mysterious side is something that Gene Wilder introduced in the movie, which I really like. The book doesn't really explore that so much - except he's clearly overseeing the demise of numbers of children. That's pretty dark, I suppose," he says.

"But there's a sadness to him. We see him at the end of his career. I don't know what he's going to do - do something else? Maybe die? Who knows? This is him saying goodbye to his factory as much as it is finding a successor."

And though he's loving playing the master of the chocolate factory, he has a minor confession to make.

"I don't particularly have a sweet tooth - which I'm actually really glad about. If I did I'd be as fat as a house, because there's so much chocolate flying around! Anything that doesn't get eaten [during the show] goes into a tin in the stage management office. I could go and stuff my face full of it!"


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