The Daily Telegraph

Female Charlies bring new flavour to Dahl stage show

- By Catherine Lough

A STAGE version of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory will involve two girls and two boys playing the lead role of Charlie Bucket.

During the musical adaptation’s 13-week run at the Leeds Playhouse, four children will play Charlie – two boys, Isaac Sugden and Noah Walton, and two girls, Amelia Minto and Kayleen Nguema.

Gender-blind casting is becoming increasing­ly popular in theatre production­s. Non-binary actor Isobel Thom played the lead as a non-binary Joan of Arc in I, Joan at the Globe Theatre, while Emma Corrin, the non-binary star of Netflix’s The Crown as Princess Diana, is set to play Virginia Woolf ’s Orlando in the West End this autumn, in an adaptation of the novel featuring an immortal character who can change their sex.

In many ways, gender-blind casting is nothing new in theatre, given how female roles were traditiona­lly played by men in the seventeent­h century.

Nor is it entirely new for Dahl’s creation, with executives at Warner Brothers reportedly considerin­g a female lead to play Willy Wonka in a prequel film in 2020.

The four young actors taking on the role of Charlie have expressed their excitement about the prospect, with 12-year-old Amelia, from Roundhay in Leeds, stating that she was “very excited to be playing one of the first female versions of Charlie Bucket” and “really looking forward to the challenge”. She added that she hoped she would also get to eat a “real Wonka bar”.

Director James Brining said the four bring “their own individual and unique character to the role”, adding that seeing Charlie through their eyes opens exciting new possibilit­ies. “I can’t wait to share what we’re creating,” he added.

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