Noah Weisberg is living a dream as he steps into the shoes of the late Gene Wilder and brings Willie Wonka, the Candy Man, to life in "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory."

Just in time for the post-holiday lull, it offers a sweet start to 2019, playing the Boston Opera House, Jan. 8-20.

"It's like a great Disney movie -- parents love it on one level and kids love it, too," said the affable Weisberg recently by phone from Toronto. "There's the darkness of Roald Dahl's book, with some of the elements of the 1971 movie that starred Wilder."

The musical, based on Dahl's acclaimed children's book, tells the story of Willy Wonka, world-famous inventor of the Everlasting Gobstopper, who has just made an astonishing announcement. He is opening the gates to his marvelous, mysterious candy factory to a lucky few.

That includes young Charlie Bucket, whose life definitely needs some sweetening. He and four other Golden Ticket winners will embark on a mesmerizing, life-changing journey through Wonka's world of pure imagination, Oompa-Loompas, incredible inventions, the great glass elevator and some everlasting showstoppers.

The show features music by Marc Shaiman and lyrics by Scott Wittman and Shaiman, as well as music from the film.

"It's a wonderfully diverse score and so much fun to do," said Weisberg, whose Broadway credits include "Elf, The Musical" and a revival of "South Pacific."

Weisberg was a young athlete who grew up playing sports in Northbrook, a suburb of Chicago. Then one summer, his mom asked him if he'd like to try theater. He was hooked and never looked back.


Chris Butler stars in "Othello."
Chris Butler stars in "Othello."

"I did local community theater, show choir and was in high-school productions," he recalled.

Broadway beckoned, so he applied to New York University for its theater program.

"I knew I wanted to be on Broadway, so NYU was the place for me," he said. "I saw so many shows on $30 student rush tickets."

A creative person, he also has extensive TV credits, including "Modern Family," "Law and Order" and "The Good Wife." He also wrote, directed and starred in the soon-to-be-released film "Thank You Kindly."

"I like doing TV and divide my time between LA and New York," he said. "Theater is physically demanding, and TV is fun. But it's important for creative people like me to stay active all the time. I'm having a ball doing Willie Wonka and hope everyone loves the show."

The cast of "The Wolves" at Lyric Stage, Boston.
The cast of "The Wolves" at Lyric Stage, Boston.

Tickets start at $44.50 and are available at 800-982-2787 or at www.BroadwayInBoston.com.

Nancye Tuttle's email address is nancyedt@verizon.net.

On the marquee

PLAYING TO WIN: Left quad. Right quad. Lunge. A girls' indoor soccer team warms up in "The Wolves" by Sarah DeLappe, playing the Lyric Stage in Boston, Jan. 11-Feb. 3. From the safety of their suburban stretch circle, the team navigates big questions and wages tiny battles with all the vigor of a pack of adolescent warriors. Notes DeLappe: "I wanted to see a portrait of teenage girls as human beings -- as complicated, nuanced, very idiosyncratic people, athletes and daughters and students and scholars and people who are trying actively to figure out who they are in this changing world around them." A. Nora Long directs the play, which was a finalist for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Tickets start at $25 at 617-585-5678 or www.lyricstage.com.

LOVE, ACTUALLY: American Repertory Theatre -- the ART -- brings "Othello," Shakespeare's most intimate tragedy, to life Jan. 13-Feb. 9 at the Loeb Drama Center in Harvard Square, Cambridge. Director Bill Rauch remounts his acclaimed Oregon Shakespeare Festival production here in a contemporary staging of this classic story of love, jealousy, hatred and society's polarizing struggles with difference. Tickets start at $25 at www.americanrepertorytheater.org.

IN THE WINGS: Seacoast Repertory Theatre in Portsmouth, N.H., opens its 2019 season with "Billy Elliot, The Musical," Feb. 8-March 9. Other shows include "The Wedding Singer," March 21-April 13; "Steel Magnolias," May 9-June 1; "West Side Story," June 13-July 20; "Evita," July 25-Aug. 24; a TBA, Sept. 12-Oct. 12; "Assassins," Nov. 7-16; and "A Christmas Carol, The Musical," Nov. 29-Dec. 22. Tickets and subscriptions available at www.seacoastrep.org.