Photo courtesy of Arizona Broadway Theatre

For Lucas Moran and AJ Riddle, playing Charlie Bucket in the Arizona Broadway Theatre production of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” is the role they dreamed of for years. Though they are only 10 and 11 years old, respectively, playing Charlie was definitely on their bucket list.

“I saw “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” on tour at Gammage when I was 5,” says Lucas. “I knew it was a role I wanted to play, so I practiced the songs and memorized the script and now it’s amazing to think I get to be in this production!”

Though he is a seasoned actor and has been in more than a dozen shows, this is Lucas’ first Arizona Broadway Theatre production.

That is not the case for AJ, who comes from an acting family including brothers JR, age 14, and Bennett, age 8. He’s performed in the theatre’s productions of “Mame” and “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”

“Charlie was a huge role and there were a lot of great kids going out for it,” says AJ. “I was kind of bracing myself in case I didn’t get the role.”

AJ found out he got the lead in a really sweet way. His mom surprised him with a customized chocolate bar with a handmade “Golden Ticket” that said, “Congratulations! You got the part.”

“When I saw the Golden Ticket, I jumped up and down and screamed with excitement,” says AJ. “I couldn’t believe it was happening!”

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” is making its regional debut at Arizona Broadway Theatre through April 14. The musical will take audiences on a wild ride as Charlie and his friends encounter a world full of surprises, innovation and, of course, Oompa-Loompas. Adapted from Roald Dahl’s children’s novel, the stage show includes great music and locally made set pieces and props.

While Lucas and AJ are passionate about performing, it is also a lot of hard work to be part of a big production like the ones at Arizona Broadway Theatre, located at 7701 W. Paradise Lane, in Peoria.

“Sometimes it’s exhausting with school and rehearsals, but when you get to the theatre and walk through the stage door, you get a huge wave of excitement,” says AJ. “Performing in front of a live audience gives me a boost. As soon as I step on the stage and feel the energy from the audience, I’m ready to go.”

For tickets and more information, visit