Christian Borle to star as Willy Wonka on Broadway

Tom Millward
Tom Millward

It has now been officially confirmed that two-time Tony winner Christian Borle will take on the iconic role of Willy Wonka in the re-worked Broadway transfer of Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - The Musical, currently entertaining audiences in London's West End, which is set to begin previews at Broadway's Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in March 2017.

Director Jack O'Brien released the following statement:

"Christian was the first—and in truth—perhaps the ONLY person I could imagine to create the role of Willy. His combination of child-like fantasy, edge, mystery, and sheer star power seemed destined for this role."
Christian Borle can currently be seen in his Tony-winning role of 'The Bard' in Something Rotten! at Broadway's St James Theatre. He will also take on the role of Marvin in the upcoming revival of Falsettos, which begins previews at the Walter Kerr Theatre on 29 September 2016, before an official opening on 27 October. His previous Broadway credits include his first Tony-winning performance in 'Peter and the Starcatcher,' as well as 'Legally Blonde,' 'Mary Poppins,' Monty Python's 'Spamalot,' 'Amour,' 'Thoroughly Modern Millie,' 'Jesus Christ Superstar,' and 'Footloose.' Screen credits include NBC's "Smash," "Peter Pan Live!" and "The Sound of Music Live!"

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - The Musical, directed by three-time Tony winner Jack O'Brien and choreographed by Tony nominee & Emmy winner Joshua Bergasse, features music by Grammy, Emmy & Tony winner Marc Shaiman, lyrics by Grammy & Tony winners Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman, and a book by David Greig.

Synopsis: "Willy Wonka, world famous inventor of the Everlasting Gobstopper has just made an astonishing announcement. His marvelous—and mysterious—factory is opening its a lucky few. That includes young Charlie Bucket, whose life definitely needs sweetening. He and four other golden ticket winners will embark on a mesmerizing, life-changing journey through Wonka's world of pure imagination. Get ready for chocolate waterfalls, exquisitely nutty squirrels and the great glass elevator, all to be revealed by Wonka's army of curious Oompa-Loompas."

The creative team behind Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - The Musical has also been announced and features orchestrations by Doug Besterman, scenic and costume design by Mark Thompson, lighting design by Japhy Weideman and puppet design by Basil Twist.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - The Musical is produced on Broadway by Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures, Langley Park Productions and Neal Street Productions.

Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - The Musical officially opened at London's Theatre Royal Drury Lane on 25 July 2013, following previews from 22 May, with mixed to positive reviews. It received a total of 7 Olivier Award nominations in 2014, including Best New Musical, picking up the awards for Best Costume Design and Best Lighting Design. The original cast starred Tony and Olivier winner Douglas Hodge in the iconic role of Willy Wonka. He was eventually replaced by Alex Jennings and the role is currently played by Jonathan Slinger. The London production is now in its fourth and final year, currently booking through to 7 January 2017.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - The Musical is based on Roald Dahl's 1964 children's novel and the 1971 film adaptation (entitled "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory") starring Gene Wilder. A 2005 re-make was also released under the direction of Tim Burton, which starred Johnny Depp.

Additional casting and exact dates will be announced in the coming months.

- by Tom Millward

Photo by Joan Marcus Christian Borle

Originally published on

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