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The Queensland premiere season of Charlie and Chocolate Factory is soon to light up QPAC’s Lyric Theatre stage.
Ahead of rehearsals we caught up with the four excited young actors who will share the iconic role of Charlie Bucket.
Queenslanders Cooper Matthews, Flynn Nowlan and Phineaus Knickerbocker had in fact already been cast to play the role of Charlie for the original QPAC season scheduled in March last year.
But even the magic of Willy Wonka couldn’t work a miracle when COVID meant the doors to the Chocolate Factory couldn’t open and the show was cancelled.
Fast forward to 2021 and the three young actors are over the moon to have secured the role again and can’t wait to get on the stage in this pivotal role for the production.
Equally excited is our fourth Charlie, Edgar Stirling who is reprising the role from the Melbourne season of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, in his first gig away from home.
The fact that this role needs to be shared among four boys speaks volumes about how demanding it is and we thought we would shine the spotlight on them before the season opens.
Here’s what we found out about the young stars:
Cooper (12) who hails from Paddington, Brisbane was already a keen Roald Dahl fan before he landed this dream role.
“I remember reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory twice along with The Witches and The Great Glass Elevator,” he said.
Cooper says he is “stoked” to play Charlie Bucket.
“After Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was cancelled last year, we were assured it was not coming back. But, here we are!”
While he couldn’t take to the stage in Charlie, last year, Cooper performed in an online zoomsical called, The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley - Online Edition and then a stage production of High School Musical earlier this year.
When asked if he wants to continue acting when he grows up there is no doubt for this young star.
“Yes! Being an actor is the most fun job in the world!”
Flynn (13) from Nerang on the Gold Coast is no stranger to leading roles, appearing on stage as Oliver in the musical Oliver when he was just nine years old.
Flynn is also incredibly excited to be able to finally play the role of Charlie.
“Last year I was so sad when the show closed just before we had a chance to open and now I have been given a second chance. I feel so lucky, I got a Golden Ticket twice!”
When asked to describe the character of Charlie Bucket, Flynn says:
“Charlie is a really nice person and even though his family are poor and don’t have everything he doesn’t let that bother him. He is a dreamer AND an inventor… just like Willy Wonka.”
Flynn shared with us the advice he got from his parents about acting.
“They have always told me to have fun, be prepared and to learn as much as I can from the new people I meet,” he said.
Speaking of a career in show biz, with a name like Phineaus Knickerbocker (13), our other Queensland Charlie from Mackenzie in Brisbane, seems destined for the stage.
Phineaus recalls his parents reading many Roald Dahl tales to him when he was younger as well as the much-loved stories being among the first books that he read himself.
“I loved the creative and inventive ideas and the unique portrayal of the characters. One of my favourite things about Dahl’s novels are how they bring so much life to the characters and story,” said Phineaus.
The young performer’s first role was Gavroche in the Griffith University Conservatorium of Music's production of Les Misérables. The role of Charlie Bucket, however, is his biggest to date.
When asked to describe Charlie, Phineaus said:
“I would describe Charlie as someone who sees the good in everyone and everything. He is very humble, appreciative, optimistic, caring, creative, intelligent and inventive. No matter what, he never gives up hope. Charlie does not complain despite all the hardships in his life and does his best to help.”
And finally, we wanted to know what advice Mr and Mrs Knickerbocker have given their son about acting.
“My parents always tell me to just relax and enjoy it and have as much fun as possible while trying my best. They also tell me to take deep breaths, take it one step at a time, and to make friends along the way. The journey begins with the first step,” he said.
Our Melbourne import Charlie Edgar Stirling (12) is thrilled to be performing the role again, in his “Happy First” time in Brisbane.
“It is a real treat to be performing in a city that I have not been to before. I am also loving catching up with old cast members and meeting the new ones,” he said.
As an avid Roald Dahl fan and son of a children’s author himself, Edgar can relate well to playing the role of Charlie.
“My twin brother and I read Roald Dahl books from a young age. They were in fact the only books that would keep us in bed.”
Edgar describes Charlie as an endless optimist who believes nothing is going to get in the way of getting a Golden Ticket. He is a dreamer like his Grandad, he adds.
Want to get a sneak peak of these young stars in rehearsal ahead of them taking to the stage in the biggest role within this much-loved musical? Check out this behind the scenes video.
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