In 2017, director Jack O'Brien gave three young men a golden ticket to Broadway. Jake Ryan Flynn, Ryan Foust, and Ryan Sell all made their Broadway debuts in the title role of the musical Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, going head-to-head with co-leading man Christian Borle as the mysterious Willy Wonka. With the factory getting ready to close its gates on January 14, we asked the trio of actors to look back on their most delectable experiences behind the scenes.
1. Jake, what is your favorite line that you get to say?
It's actually a song lyric. "Like eggs made of chocolate that turn into birds." While I am singing this line I am supposed to take a piece of tin foil and turn it into the shape of a bird. Ninety percent of the time I am an epic failure at it, and Christian is laughing at me and making comments off mic that just crack me up. But every night, it is my favorite part because I never know what it is going to look like or what Christian will say about it.
2. Ryan Foust, what is the best inside joke that the cast has?
Probably all of the little funny comments said between the cast members onstage when our microphones are turned off. We stay in character and say funny things to each other about what's going on while other people are talking onstage. John Rubinstein will say hilarious things about the squirrels and Oompas. We have many special things we do each night joking around. Mike Wartella and I will go back and forth calling each other funny names (like Pork Chop and horse radish). TristaDollison (Violet Beauregard Salt), Emma Pfaeffle (Veruca Salt), and Kathy Fitzgerald (Mrs. Gloop) do funny things all of the time. Sometimes we do funny dances backstage on the sides to try to make people onstage laugh.
3. Ryan Sell, every show experiences technical difficulties. What was the worst technical difficulty experienced during your show and how was it handled?
My most memorable experience with technical difficulties during a show was in the elevator scene at the end of Act 2. Something was off with the timing of the elevator's descent, when Christian and I were singing "The View From Here." In a choreographed moment, near the end of the song, we hold hands and jump out of the elevator back onto the stage. We didn't realize that there was anything wrong, at this particular performance, and jumped, as always, out of the elevator, only to realize that we were about an extra foot or more off of the ground than usual! Thank goodness we were holding hands and luckily, we landed on our feet! Phew!
4. Ryan Foust, what was the most "interesting" present someone gave you at the stage door?
Probably a picture that looked just like me licking a lollipop.
5. Jake, who is the coolest person that came to see your show? (You can't say your family!)
Hugh Jackman! I have admired him for years because he is a major triple threat. I will never forget that he saw me perform, and he took a photo with me!
6. Ryan Sell, if you had a golden ticket to anywhere in the world, where would it take you and why?
This may sound cliché, but in all honesty, winning my Golden Ticket to originate the role of Charlie Bucket on Broadway will always be my favorite destination. To have been a part of the magic (with such an incredible cast and crew) that we were all able to create together onstage has been an unforgettable experience, and one that I will treasure forever. Making it to Broadway is something that I can now cross off of my bucket list!
7. Jake, what is your favorite kind of candy and why do you love it?
Charlestown Chew. I love chocolate and marshmallow, and I don't get to have it that often, so it is always a treat when I do.
8. Ryan Sell, in real life, are you more like Veruca, Augustus, Violet, or Mike, and how so?
I identify most with the character of Mike Teavee, because I am obsessed with technology and video games! When I am not onstage, I can be found playing my favorite games on my computer, iPad, or Nintendo Switch! The Charlies even connect when we are on call at home sometimes.
9. Ryan Foust, if you could play any other role in the production, which would it be and why?
Willy Wonka. I see what Christian goes through every performance sweating and making people laugh, and I'd love to have a part where I could make people laugh all of the time.
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