Noah Weisberg’s Willy Wonka Provides a Sweet Treat for All of Our Senses

It is a journey of Pure Imagination in the current Philadelphia Tour of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory From the moment Willie Wonka steps on the stage at the Academy of Music he takes his audience on a tasty and magical journey sure to enliven all of our senses.

Wearing his signature fuchsia velvet coat and black top hat, the endearing and tricky chocolate factory owner with a big marketing plan is hosting its colorful splendor at the Kimmel Center’s Academy of Music through Sunday, November 18.

Broadway, television, commercial actor Noah Weisberg is proudly wearing Wonka’s attire in the Broadway Tour, and loving every moment of the tasty experience in Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

The curly-haired Chicago native, an expert song and dance man, has been sharing his Charlie and the Chocolate Factory tour with his proud parents, extended family members, longtime friends, and even his teachers, and is thrilled to share the show with audiences in Philadelphia and other cities on the tour.

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. The show is colorful, charming and thoroughly enjoyable.

Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory tells the story of Willy Wonka, world-famous inventor of the Everlasting Gobstopper, who has just made an astonishing announcement.

His marvelous—and mysterious—chocolate factory is opening its gates…to 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 more than a dozen adorable Oompa-Loompas, incredible inventions, the great glass elevator, and more at this everlasting showstopper!

“For more than 50 years, Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has invited audiences of all ages to step inside the world of pure imagination,” said Ed Cambron, executive vice president of the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts.

“We are honored to welcome guests to the Kimmel Center to experience the wonders of this charming hit Broadway musical,” Cambron said. “Filled with eye-catching sets and an enchanting new score, this dazzling show is truly a sweet treat for the entire family!”

Weisberg has wowed audiences as Grandpa Joe in a local children’s production at the age of 12. On Broadway, he has appeared in South Pacific, Enron, Elf and Legally Blonde.

On television, he has acted in Modern Family, Law & Order, The Good Wife, iCarly, Bones, and many others. He wrote, directed and starred in Thank You Kindly and the award-winning What’s Life Got To Do With It. Here is a look at this scrumptious show led by Noah Weisberg.

How did this show Charlie and the Chocolate Factory come to you?

NOAH WEISBERG: I go back and forth to New York City and L.A. all the time and while I love doing TV, writing, film, and theater have always been my first love.

I sent in a tape had the final call back in March in New York and it went really well. It was the day of a huge late winter snowstorm and we were all there changing into from our winter snow boots into a hint of a costume. Within an hour of leaving I received an email from the head producer saying he heard I was great and asked to take me to coffee. I officially found out a few days later.

When and where did the tour begin?

NW: We started rehearsals in mid-August, and the tour started in Buffalo on Sept. 21. Our second official town was Chicago, my hometown. My sister lives there and I have fond memories of hanging out in the city and the suburbs. I also performed at the Oriental Theater. I was in high school and community theater, and when my friends and family came to see the show, it was like a big, happy reunion, too. We are in Cincinnati now and Philadelphia is the fourth stop. What is it like sharing this show with your family and friends?

NW: Everyone came when we were in Chicago. My mom saw it so many times she could jump on and be an understudy if someone got sick. I plan to be with the tour for a year and I am sure family members and friends will find the right moment to pop in to see it. My first-grade teacher came when we were in Chicago; that was very sweet for me.

How does it feel to be doing the show?

NW: It’s still very fresh. When we arrive in Philadelphia we will have previously done the show 45 times. We are energized finding new moments and new laughs and we are already settled in, so Philadelphia is a good stop for us.

Tell me a behind-the-scenes story about the show?

NW: I have a recent Halloween story. There are three young boys who play Charlie and they are 10 or 11 years old. Since they couldn’t go trick or treating their teacher asked us to decorate our dressing rooms so they could have the experience. We all got into it and it was both fun, and touching, so they could go door-to-door. Each of the boys travels with his mom and a teacher. They are good, well-behaved kids, too. I also appreciate that they look out with one another, and they are non-competitive.

I must ask what was your first moments on a Broadway stage? Do you remember it well?

NW: Oh yes. I was in the show Legally Blonde, and I remember when the curtain came down for the first time. It was my first Broadway show and everyone gathered in a circle and looked at each other. It was such a personal accomplishment that I went into the corner and shed a few happy tears for the years and years of hard work. I will never forget that night.

You seem to have a passion for Broadway and performing on the stage.

NW: Oh yes. I can’t believe I get to sing, dance and act for a living. I went to college at New York University and have been living in L.A. When I go back to New York I see a lot of shows. I have seen Dear Evan Hansen several times, I did some work on Dog Fight; Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, are not only super talented (other credits include La La Land and The Greatest Showman) they are really nice guys.

Why should someone come to see this show if they already know the story from the movies? How familiar were you with the 1971 movie with Gene Wilder?

NW: I chose not to re-watch the Gene Wilder version. I felt that reading it and listening to the music was not going to ruin something that I have fond memories of watching with my brother. Are there are a lot of surprises in this show?

NW: Yes. There are things they added into our script that are so smart. All of the songs you love from the movie are there, CandymanI’ve Got A Golden Ticket and Pure Imagination. Another thing that I love is that people feel they get to go on the factory tour with us. It’s unique every night and extremely interactive. We feed off the audience’s energy. To be there live makes it a special event, and it doesn’t take away from the movie. You will get the basic story and have a ton of surprises.

Even if you don’t know the story well, why should you come to this show?

NW: A few of my family members who had no idea what to expect had an amazing time. We bring forth such a wacky world, and at every term is an amazing surprise. There’s not a moment or a bit that isn’t based on a great deal of heart or innocence. What grounds the show is kids love it, so do their parents and every one of every age. It’s like a great Disney movie that plays on two levels – one for children and one for adults.

Talk about several hundred commercials you have made over the years.

NW: I am very lucky to have done a couple hundred voice-overs and on-camera commercials. It’s a real lifesaver and they are fun to do. As an actor, it’s an opportunity to get better. Voice overs are overs are fun to record and the money is good. The ones I do are union commercials and get paid when they play. I was the voice of Vicks, Nyquil, and Dayquil. I don’t feel desperate when it comes to auditioning; I don’t have to take every show.

Where do you think your confidence to be a performer came from?

NW: I never felt at home doing sports. I played a little baseball, but I found my confidence at my local children’s theater. The director, Dr. Gregory C. “Doc” Dennhardt, is still there. He always said ‘I have his program to help kids build confidence, communication skills, and work in a group.’ He felt that theater is like a sport. Everyone is important from the guy or girl pulling the curtain to the lead actor and actress. He would always say, ‘I can’t sell tickets for you and I can’t memorize your lines.’ He taught us to be on time and be responsible, the same rules we have on Broadway. So it was special that he and his wife came to the show and we had the opportunity to go out to dinner and talk afterward.

Does your mom enjoy seeing your commercials?

NW: My mom falls asleep with the TV on and in the middle of the night it will wake up when she hears my voice and she still gets excited. Even is she is home alone so will screen and point at the screen. I feel it’s just my way to say hi to her.

What do you foresee for your future?

NW: I made this film and now that I am settled into the tour I would like to submit it to film festivals. As an actor, it is so hard to plan. I love being on TV, Broadway, or doing a theater piece. I love writing and directing and going back and forth between L.A. and New York. So, I want to keep doing what I’m doing with all of the sides of the business. I never get bored with it. I never get bored with it. This is such a creative competitive business, with so many good people, and a lot of great material being produced. What is the key message of this show?

NW: One that we need right now; that the good guy wins in the end.

Tickets can be purchased by calling (215) 893-1999, visiting kimmelcenter.org, or at the Kimmel Center Box Office. For more information go to: kimmelcenter.org.

For more tour information, visit www.CharlieOnBroadway.com.

The Legacy of Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl (1916-1990) was a spy, ace fighter-pilot, chocolate historian and medical inventor. He was also the author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The BFG, and many more brilliant stories. He remains the World’s Number 1 storyteller.

Sitting in a hut at the bottom of his garden, surrounded by odd bits and pieces such as a suitcase (used as a footrest), his own hipbone (which he’d had replaced) and a heavy ball of metal foil (made from years’ worth of chocolate wrappers), he went on to write some of the world’s best-loved children’s stories. His first children’s story, James and the Giant Peach, was published in 1961, was a hit, and every subsequent book became a best-seller.

 Today, his stories are available in 58 languages and, by a conservative estimate, he has sold more than 250 million books. Many of these stories have also been adapted for stage and screen, including the 1971 film classic Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Wes Anderson’s acclaimed Fantastic Mr. Fox, the multi-award winning Matilda the Musical from the RSC with music by Tim Minchin, and Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster The BFG.

The latest adaptation is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory the Musical which opened on Broadway in April 2017, after three Golden years on London’s West End, and now continuing with the national tour.

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