He only had to audition, like many others from the world of theater, cabaret and music, but after two tours he became: Willy Wonka, the main role in the first Dutch production of the musical. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Remko Vrijdag, better known as De Vliegende Panters and the duo he formed with Martine Sandifort, can be seen this season in the musical based on Roald Dahl’s children’s book from 1964. The production had its world premiere in 2013 in London, followed in 2017 by an American version in Broadway. The Theater Alliance is a product for the Dutch language CharlieIn addition to Friday and a number of actors, five different kid teams were selected.
How was the selection procedure for this role?
“Proofing isn’t exactly my favorite thing, but in the end I got a great phone call. Yeah, that’s a role I really wanted, also because I loved this book as a boy. I didn’t know the same music from the stage, but I saw the American version on my laptop. I did. I found it very frustrating, because it was totally In your faceLike pushing a candy cane in your face. It was all very sad too, with a crude sense of humour. For me Willy Wonka is not a sadist.”
How different is the Dutch version?
I see Willy Wonka as a lone artist, a non-worldly artist who has isolated himself from everyday life. His chocolate factory is a great work of art for him. In our design you see quite a few winks by surrealist artists like Salvador Dali and René Magritte, and the music is arranged in a slightly more European fashion, in the style of Kurt Weil.
Did you fall in love with Willie?
Yes, because to me he is the embodiment of the old man who feels his time is up and has to pass the wand. Inviting these kids to his factory, he’s showing his artwork for the first time. This makes it touch me too.
There are two Charlie and the Chocolate Factory films: one from 1971 with Gene Wilder and one from 2005 with Johnny Depp. How do you find these actors?
“I have a strong preference for Gene Wilder. A cheerful actor, especially in the films he’s made with Mel Brooks. Wilder works mainly with his eyes, as Jack Nicholson always acts with his eyebrows. I also try to bring the strength of his look to the stage. I think Johnny Depp is very soft, and he hides.” Behind those sunglasses, it was too much of a reference to Michael Jackson to me.
There is now also a movie in which Timothée Chalamet plays Willy Wonka, what do you expect from that?
I think this would be a kind of burqa in which Chalamet plays the young Willie. The content of the whole remains a mystery to me, but I can very well imagine Chalamet’s choice: very charismatic, not out of this world at times, groping behind those eyes that suspect a colossal inner world. I’ve got it all. In terms of looks, I think we’re on the line with each other, apart from brown Chalamet viewers, but our hairstyles will match well, apparently. (HJ)
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory By De Theatrealliantie (directed by Jasper Verheugd, translation by Rik van den Bos) can be seen at the DeLaMar Theater in Amsterdam from 1/9 to 2/10. Then round.
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