Q&A: Luis Villar and his adventures in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory

In conversation with a cast member of the touring production of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," coming to Broadway San Jose January 18-23, 2022
Luis Villar. Photo Credit: Broadway San Jose

Arturo Hilario
El Observador

“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” was originally a book written by British novelist Roald Dahl, and later turned into a musical and two movies (so far), showing what happens when children and their parents expose their true desires and morality through a contest by a chocolatier named Willy Wonka.

A well-known story in pop culture, the story of Willy Wonka and Charlie Bucket, along with the famous Oompa Loompas, body transformation effects and great music, has been celebrated for decades and now comes to Broadway San Jose from January 18-23, 2022.

We recently had a chance to speak with a cast member for the touring production of the music version, and we learned what makes this one a little different and how it packs just the right amount of sweetness.

Luis Villar began his career with ballet in his original home of Caracas, Venezuela, and later moved to the US to pursue a career in the performing arts. After working on productions of “An American in Paris”, “West Side Story”, “A Chorus Line”, Luis is now in his first touring production working on “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”. See what he thinks of working at the chocolate factory below.

To start off could you talk a bit about what your experience has been up to now in the performing arts and how you came to be in this branch of the arts?

Well, my experience has been spectacular thus far. I have had a career of approximately ten years and I started dancing ballet in my country Venezuela for a few years. Then I moved to the United States, I was still doing ballet for two years until I started doing musical theater. I started auditioning for musical theater plays and well, thank God I have done very well. Already two years in the musical theater, I auditioned for ‘Charlie’ and well, I did the first part of the tour that later we had to close due to COVID, [but] now we are back again.

And what was it about ballet that interested you and how did you switch to theater?

Well, I started doing ballet because it was what I liked the most at the time. In Venezuela there is not a wide spectrum of musical theater, so it always caught my attention, but there was no such platform to be able to do it. So I always leaned more towards ballet. After I moved to the United States there was already a bigger platform to be able to do it and apart from that, I was getting older and I wanted to have a longer lasting career.

And musical theater allows me to continue dancing. And apart from that, I also really like singing and acting and it is something that I enjoy and I can do it for a longer time in musical theater.

Can you talk a bit about what the story of this version of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” is like?

This version that we have of ‘Charlie’ is very similar, it has several elements from the original film, it has several elements from the film with Johnny Depp, but the story itself is quite similar.

It is the story of Roald Dahl, the one who wrote it and it is the story of Charlie, and he lives in a small town where Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory is coincidentally located, which has been closed for many, many years, until finally Wonka decides to go out into the world again because the years are passing by and he has to find a person to whom he can leave his factory.

Then he takes out his five golden tickets to be able to find that pure soul, that person who really has the passion for creating new sweets and chocolates.

And then he invites five children to his factory to see who is going to be the winner of that grand prize and the story is basically about teaching the children that if you have a pure heart and if you do things right, and if we also listen to our dreams, anything can be achieved.

What do you like most about this production, be it one of the songs or something in which you participate in?

I am part of the ensemble, so I have the opportunity to be in several numbers throughout the entire play. Definitely dancing with Augustus Gloop in the “More of Him to Love” number is one of my favorites, super energetic, the costumes are so great.

At the end of the first act there’s the number “It Must Be Believed to Be Seen” and it’s just as super, super cool to be in that number, because there’s quite a lot of dance and acting elements and there are several surprises that I can’t reveal right now, but if you go to see the play, you will see that there are many magical elements in that number as well. And obviously playing the part of the Oompa Loompas we always get a very, very good reaction from the audience when we come on stage.

Finally, I wanted to ask you, why do you recommend that people go to see the show when it arrives to San Jose?

“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” is primarily a family-oriented play. No matter the age, it has things for all ages. It is a very magical work. The story is very easy to follow, because one assumes that almost everyone, almost everyone has heard even a little bit of the story of Charlie and the chocolate factory, and it has very nice lessons for everyone who wants to go see the show.

“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” is coming to Broadway San Jose January 18-23, 2022. More information and tickets are available at broadwaysanjose.com.

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