The Fame Reporter interviewed young Australian performer, Harrison Riley currently starring as Mike Teavee in Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Musical. Playing in Brisbane from 18 March – 19 April at QPAC’s Lyric Theatre.
Born in Sydney in 1999, Harrison has had a passion for the stage since he can remember, with one main interest – musical theatre. He started formal vocal and acting lessons at the age of 14 and has been grabbing every opportunity to perform since. Harrison’s first production was in the ensemble of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in 2015. Since then he has been dedicated to learning the art of performance in various musical society productions including The Little Mermaid (ensemble), Honk (Turkey), Sweeney Todd (Anthony) and Wicked (Boq).
Whilst successfully completing his HSC in 2017 he continued to perform in the role of Michael in Be More Chill. Striving to become a successful performer he is thrilled to be performing in his first professional production, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!
We talked to Harrison about what enticed him to want to join the Chocolate Factory as Mike Teavee, what its been like working with the talented kids who play Charlie and more.
See our interview below!
Welcome to The Fame Reporter, what sparked your interest in performing initially?
My first amateur production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – had the moment just before I went on stage and knew it was all I wanted to do!
What about ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ enticed you to want to be involved in it and what is your favourite Wonka candy or chocolate?
I was obsessed with the show as a youngster – any movies or shows with singing and dancing. I used to go with mum. Hazelnut dream would be my favourite chocolate/candy.
How does the show capture the essence of Roald Dahl’s infamous story and how has it changed for the stage version?
I think the show can be encapsulated in the phrase – must be believed to be seen! It is all about the imagination – translated through imagery and wonderful lyrics.
One of my favourite lines is the things appear strange now imagine the wonder you might find.
The show is changed for the stage through the music and imagery. On stage there are so many circles and swirls and the dancing and costuming – bubble gum divas – Violet’s entourage, it just invites such huge imagination from the creators and includes the audience in the telling of the story.
Do you have a role in theatre that you are dying to play?
A million and one but the best – ticked off the bucket list now with this one but also Boq from Wicked the Musical.
What has it been like working with the talented kids who play Charlie in the show?
Oh MY GOD they are amazing – they give me a run for my money – the talent they exude at such a young age – it is incredible how amazing their voices are and their acting skills – and they make the audience feel something every night and I think that is really special.
If you were an inventor at a factory, what do you think you would create?
I think Wonk outdid himself with gum as three course meal.
I think I would make maybe something to do with marshmallows and toffee – a chocolate surprise that changes the colour of your hair for 5 minutes … what do you think!
What do you love about Charlie’s relationship with Grandpa Joe?
I think the wholesomeness – Grandpa Joe acts as best friend and father figure to Charlie.
What 3 performers dead or alive would you love to have a dinner party with?
Evelyn Nesbit (vaudevillian performer)
What is your favourite moment or musical number in the show and what do you love about your character’s persona?
‘It Must Be Believed To Be Seen!’ When everyone joins in “your life is about to change” the entire ensemble deliver epic harmonies and entire show looks like it is swirling – it is just magical.
Also the first time the entire cast of the show starts to dance, including the golden ticket winners – that is a very powerful moment.
I think my character is the worst – but I love it! He is a hyperactive, high energy, undisciplined kid. It is how he was raised – he is clever but he doesn’t do anything with his brain so he becomes stupid.
Why do you think Brisbane audiences will enjoy this iconic story live on stage?
I know Brisbane audiences are going to love it – and not just the kids.
The heart of the show is so big – we have random audience members say they were in tears throughout the show – such is the depth of emotion and soul – which is so important to the story!
Fame Reporter Word Play
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Everlasting Gobstopper or Wonka Bar
Any secret talents
Prat fall – fall in comedic fashion
25th Annual spelling bee
Savoury or Sweet
Dream Co-star to work with
Dressing Room necessity
Michael Teller or Kristin Chenoweth
Can’t live without
Favourite song in the show
Believed to be seen
Place you want to travel to
Favourite Roald Dahl book
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Successful acting career
TV Show Binge
The Good Place
Finally, favourite thing about performing
Audience – performing to an audience every night and having them react to whatever you are doing on stage is amazing.
Thank-you for joining us at The Fame Reporter and we wish you all the best for the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Musical Australian tour!
Get your tickets below!
All photos and videos – Supplied