For the national tour of Roald Dah’s CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY THE MUSICAL, I had the immense pleasure of speaking with Broadway veteran Noah Weisberg. Having been in such productions as South Pacific, Enron, Elf, and Legally Blonde, Weisberg has now taken on one of the most iconic roles out there – that of Willy Wonka!
We were lucky enough to have the opportunity to chat with Noah about his experience playing the memorable Candyman, Willy Wonka. During our chat we discussed everything from what it was like to take on such a recognizable role, bringing his own style of flair, and his experience working so closely with the three kids responsible for bringing Charlie to life. As Wonka says, time is a precious thing, so sit back and relax and immerse yourself in the sugary goodness that is Noah Weisberg!
It’s a pleasure speaking with you today, Noah! I absolutely loved the production and you were phenomenal! What interested you in the role of Willy Wonka and what was it like for you to bring this iconic character to life?
Noah Weisberg: One of the first things that attracted me to the project was the creative team that was putting the show together. Jack O’Brien is a legendary, 3-time TONY Award-winning director. Every actor that has worked with him goes on and on about how brilliant he is and how wonderfully he works with actors. Plus, I’ve seen some of his work and loved it! I’ve also been a big fan of our choreographer, Josh Bergasse, for a long time. And…Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman who wrote our music and lyrics. They are some of the greatest writers the theatre has known. Hairspray! Catch Me If You Can! and so much more. I am a major fan of their work! I had also heard awesome things about the associate director, Matt Lenz, and the associate choreographer, Ali Solomon. I was extremely excited to work with this group of people!
The role itself presented a great challenge, which I love. I was excited to see how I could find my own version. It has been so rewarding to share this story with audiences. Their response has been overwhelming. What a perfect time to share a story that shows us that kindness, honesty and selflessness win the day!
How did you prepare for the role? Outside of the film(s) and the book, were there other inspirations in which you drew from?
Noah Weisberg: I’ve never seen the Johnny Depp version and purposely did not rewatch the original film. I loved it as a kid but didn’t want to get caught trying to recreate Gene Wilder’s brilliant performance. I tried to focus on bringing as much of myself to the role as possible. I attempted to avoid thinking of Willy as a bizarre person and instead focused on why he behaves the way he does. Why he can be kind one second, yell at a kid the next moment, and then make a joke a second later. With the help of our incredible director, Jack O’Brien, I focused on finding the positivity and joy in Wonka. It’s easy to play him mean and uncaring and that’s just not how I see him. So, for the most part, the preparation I did was to look inside myself and connect with and bring out all the parts of Wonka that I have as well: joy, anger, excitement, imagination, etc. Hopefully, this results in a stylized but ultimately truthful and grounded performance.
It seems to be a known fact that working with children can be difficult. What was it like in your experience, especially working so closely with the three kids (Henry Boshart, Collin Jeffrey, Reuby Wood) who play Charlie Bucket?
Noah Weisberg: We have 3 wonderful young actors who rotate nightly in the role. They are all wonderful actors (and nice kids. Yay for good parenting!) They each play the role in their own unique way. I give credit again to our director, Jack O’Brien, for allowing them, and all of us, the freedom to find our own versions of these well-known characters. Their youth, innocence and sincerity shine through
You’ve done film work and television as well as lots of theatre. What do you love so much about theatre as opposed to film and TV?
Noah Weisberg: I really love doing film & TV but theatre has always been and will always be my heart. It’s immediate. It’s live…mistakes and all. No second takes, no reshoots. In showbiz, there is nothing more special than sharing a live performance with a group of people. That exact performance, that exact group of audience members will never exist again. It is a one-time thing. And to me, that is very special!
What I loved so much about CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY THE MUSICAL was how inventive and creative it was. Was there a certain scene, or scenes, that you loved doing the most?
Noah Weisberg: There are so many wonderful moments in the show. I still love to stand in the wings and watch my friends do their scenes and songs that I’m not in. Each Golden Ticket Winner gets a song in Act One to introduce their character. All these songs are so different and perfectly fit each character. And each of these performers does an amazing job!
As far as what I get to do in the show, my favorite part is singing the song “The View From Here.” Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman wrote such a beautiful song and I feel lucky to sing it every night. The parts of the show I love the most are the parts with heart. The parts that make the audience tear up a bit. I wasn’t expecting those moments in this show, but I love them. And I think they help ground this otherwise wonderfully funny and over the top show in a way that makes you care about the characters and what they’re going through. And when the audience cares and believes, I think the laughs are even bigger!
Last, but certainly not least, if people want to know more about yourself and the projects you are a part of, where can they find you on social media?
Noah Weisberg: They can go to my website noahweisberg.com or visit me on Instagram @noahweisberg.
CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY will take place at the Hollywood Pantages from March 27-April 14, 2019. Tickets can be purchased HERE.