Ira Jones Middle School seventh-grader Charles Long will have a “golden” after-school job to juggle with homework this winter season.
Long will star as Charlie Bucket in Paramount Theatre’s upcoming Broadway Series production “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” November 8 – January 14, 2024.
Long beat out hundreds of other performers his age to alternate in the lead role with Meena Sood.
Both Long and Sood are the only youth performers in the production.
The remaining cast is comprised of Chicago-based professional actors.
“Charlie Long has a hero’s spirit,” said Paramount Theatre’s artistic producer and casting director, and show director Trent Stork.
“When he walks on stage you are instantly rooting for him. He’s a kid you want to see win and that’s why he makes a great Charlie Bucket,” he added.
Long is overjoyed to be back at the Paramount where he was last seen in “School of Rock” and “The Sound of Music.”
“I am beyond excited to be playing Charlie Bucket,” Long said. “This is a dream role for me.”
Long has been performing in youth and community theater since the age of five.
“Playing Charlie is extra special because it was one of my first roles in children’s theater, so now to be able to perform it on the Paramount stage is so magical,” Long said.
“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” is based on the beloved 1964 children’s novel of the same name by Roald Dahl.
“I love the story because it explores goodness, wonder and imagination.” Long said.
Long started preparing for this role over the summer by practicing the music and studying the script.
He also read Dahl’s novel and watched both movies.
Offstage, Long takes singing lessons and is in the band and choir at Ira Jones.
“We are so grateful for the wonderful educators who have encouraged and taught Charlie,” said Long’s mom, Holli Long.
Ira Jones and Indian Trail Middle School band and choir students are going to see the production in December.
“There is a special joy that I feel performing for others.” Long said.
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