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Alex Jennings to play Willy Wonka in Sam Mendes' Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Jennings set to make his first appearance as Willy Wonka on 19 May

Alex Jennings will replace Douglas Hodge as Willy Wonka in the West End adaptation of Roald Dahl's classic tale Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Jennings is set to make his first appearance as Wonka, the eccentric owner of a candy factory, on 19 May- less than a year after Hodge took over the role in Sam Mendes' West End production.

The part marks a return to musicals for Jennings who won an Olivier Award for his performance as Professor Henry Higgins in the musical My Fair Lady in 2003.

He also won Olivier Awards for Peer Gynt (1996) and Too Clever By Half (1988), making him the only actor to have won in all categories. His film credits include The Queen, The Wings of the Dove and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

With musics and lyrics by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory opened to mixed reviews but has proved a hit with West End audiences with more than half a million people flocking to Theatre Royal Drury Lane to see the show.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is currently booking to May 2015.