Grab your golden ticket! This Tuesday, February 12th the Bull City will get just a little sweeter when “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” opens at DPAC!
The musical tells the story of Willy Wonka, world famous inventor of the Everlasting Gobstopper, who has just stunned the world by announcing he will allow a few lucky winners to visit his mysterious factory where he makes all his magical confections. Charlie Bucket and four other golden ticket winners embark on a mesmerizing, life-changing journey through Wonka’s world of pure imagination.
The production features scenic and costume design by five-time Tony Award® nominee Mark Thompson, lighting design by four-time Tony Award nominee Japhy Weideman, sound design by Andrew Keister, projection design by Jeff Sugg, puppet and illusion design by Obie and Drama Desk Award winner Basil Twist, orchestrations by three-time Tony Award® winner Doug Besterman and music supervision by Nicholas Skilbeck.
The hit Broadway musical features songs from the original film, including “Pure Imagination,” “The Candy Man,” and “I’ve Got a Golden Ticket,” alongside a toe-tapping and ear-tickling new score from the songwriters from Hairspray.
In preparation for the productions arrival in Durham I spoke to Jessica Cohen, who plays Veruca Salt, to learn a little more about what theater goers can expect from the show. Jessica was trained at the San Francisco School of Ballet. She danced with both the Northern Ballet in London and Sarasota Ballet in Florida before making the transition to musical theater and touring with her first musical “American in Paris” as well as landing a role with “Cats” on Broadway.
What was it that made you make the jump from ballet to performing in musicals?
I’ve loved performing in front of an audience ever since I was little. I also loved ballet and to develop that into a career you have to start early. So when I was young I decided to pursue ballet and there really wasn’t time for both that and other forms of theater as ballet is a full time commitment. But my love of acting, singing and never left and while I love ballet over time I felt that I still wasn’t fulfilling my dream. So I took acting classes and vocal lessons at the Florida Studio Theatre while I was with the Sarasota Ballet and then the opportunity for a role with “American in Paris” happened for me, which was perfect because that role did actually involve some very technical ballet.
How do you approach your character Veruca Salt?
I like to think that I am a nice person in real life so when it comes to playing Veruca I kind of approach her as my alter ego. She really is a villainous character in this production, more so than in the book or movie. So when it comes time for her demise you are actually sort of glad to see her downfall.
What is it like playing a character that is a child?
It is a lot of fun! Of course we are still playing the characters as if they are children. And while the backstory of each child contestant is similar to the original, they have a few twist and have been updated a bit. Like my character, Veruca, she is actually spoiled a Russian Ballerina in this production. Choosing to have all of the children, except for Charlie played by adults helps set these other characters apart from Charlie. It is a smart tool in the production and helps the audience see the contrast between the innocence and goodness of Charlie’s heart in contrast to the other children.
Is the musical very different from the movie / book?
The basic story line is the same and all of your favorite songs are there. The sets are of course modified a bit from the movie to adapt it to the stage, but we still convey the same setting and even have the glass elevator and of course the famous Oompa Loompas. Of course I can’t give to much away about that as that is part of the magic of the show you will just need to wait and experience for yourself!
“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” opens at DPAC on Tuesday, February 12th and has performances through Sunday February 17th. For tickets visit: https://www.dpacnc.com/events/detail/charlie-and-the-chocolate-factory