An acclaimed actor from Great Harwood is lighting up the West End with his performance as Willy Wonka.
Jonathan Slinger, formerly of Brantfell Road, was cast in Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Sam Mendes who is currently directing the next Bond film Spectre.
In a stage career spanning two decades, the former QEGS pupil has cemented his position as a top Shakespearean actor after extensive appearances with the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Jonathan has also played lead roles at the National Theatre, Shakespeare’s Globe and recently starred in the musical Urinetown.
The 42-year-old, who was born in Accrington before living in Great Harwood for nearly 20 years, said he is ‘really enjoying’ the role of Willy Wonka.
He said: “I was in Australia when I got this email saying Sam Mendes was looking to consider me for the role.
"Unfortunately I was away but when I came back I went to see the show and really enjoyed it and made the decision.
“They then sent me to the musical director to see if I could sing the songs and I managed to convince them I could.
“It’s been going brilliantly well and I have really enjoyed it.
"It is probably the biggest commercial production I have been part of and one of the most well disciplined and professional team I have worked with.
“Unfortunately Sam was shooting Bond when I was rehearsing so I didn’t really see him until later on but we have a great deputy director.”
Jonathan started taking speech and drama lessons with a private tutor in Great Harwood at the age of three and later got involved with school plays and working with his dad at the Accrington Amateurs drama group.
He lived in Great Harwood before moving down to London at the age of 19 to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA).
Jonathan, who is the third person to play the role of Willy Wonka since the show opened in 2013, said: “I love the book and the original film, not so much the Tim Burton one.
"What was funny for me was much I conflated the book with the film.
“The character that Gene Wilder played is very much his creation as in the book it is a lot darker, sinister and melancholy.
“This role has opened up a whole new world for me and a form of creative expression as it is something I have never really done before.”
The musical won two Olivier awards in April 2014, and has broken records at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, where it has been seen by over 1.5 million people since it opened in June 2013.
It is currently taking bookings until June 4, 2016.
Call the box office on 0844 858 8877.