Having a sweet tooth for the limelight, it’s fitting 11-year-old Ralphie Alesi’s first lead role in theater is as the iconic Charlie Bucket in Premier Centre for the Arts’ “Willy Wonka Jr.”
Opening night begins Friday, July 20.
Based on Roald Dahl’s famed children’s book “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” the “Willy Wonka Jr.” musical offers an ageless tale about an eccentric candy maker and his mission to find a suitable replacement to run his scrumptious empire.
Q Ralphie, how does it feel to have a lead role in the show? Are you more nervous or excited about opening night?
A Both, kind of.
Q What attracted you to playing Charlie?
A He’s really, really sweet and disobeys the rules. I also like all the songs he sings like “I’ve Got a Golden Ticket.”
Q What’s your favorite song in the show?”
A “Think Positive Reprise” because, first it’s slow in the beginning and then it gets more upbeat; and it also goes into “I’ve Got a Golden Ticket.”
Q How did you prepare for your role as Charlie?
A I kept practicing and watched the movie.
Q Did you watch the film starring Johnny Depp?
A No, I watched the original one.
Q What are some of the elements you’re bringing from that film to this production? And what are some of your personality traits you’ve added to the show?
A I try to be sweet because I’m not always quiet, and all that. I usually like to talk to my friends a lot, but Charlie doesn’t really talk a lot, except to his family.
Q What’s it like playing a character that’s different from you?
A It’s kind of fun because I have to say some of the lines differently than I would actually say them in real life. Say Charlie’s mom told him to go get something: I’d usually do it on the first time, but sometimes I zone out and my mom will have to tell me again. But with Charlie, he’d be one-step ahead of his mom.
Q In what ways does PCA keep “Willy Wonka Jr.” fresh for those who are familiar with the “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” story?
A We’re keeping it fresh because it’s always good to see it another time and see how different people play the roles. And there’s a lot of good actors in it.
Q If you could create your own candy, describe how it would taste. And what would you name it?
A I’d make a gum that’s like a food, like chicken or something like that [laughs]. [On second thought,] it would taste like a French fry. I’d call it Super Duper Fast Food.