Nate Hackmann saw his first theater show at ASU Gammage as a youngster with his mother, Julie, a music teacher in the Kyrene School District. Now he’s returning to the venue as Mr. Salt in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” from Thursday, June 11, to Tuesday, June 16.
“It’s always incredibly exciting to play my old stomping grounds,” said Hackmann, who graduated from Dobson High School.
“My mom worked for Residence Life in Manzanita (Hall) at ASU. The first show I went to was ‘Phantom’ at Gammage at 11 or 12. I’ve been around it my whole life. I’m excited to go back and see the people who mean so much to me and my mother, who supervises all of the arts teachers in the district. She was just commended by the governor for excellence in teaching.”
Hackmann admires his mother, calling her “a big deal in the East Valley. I’m just her performer son. She’s the one with the story.”
Hackmann just returned from London as Gabey in “On The Town” with the London Symphony at the BBC Proms. His other credits include national tours of “Les Miserables” (Valjean/Javert); “Jerry Springer” (Chucky/Adam); “Beauty and the Beast” (Gaston); “Paint Your Wagon” (Steve).
Regional gigs include “Hunchback of Notre Dame” (Quasimodo), “Jekyll & Hyde” (Jekyll/Hyde), “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” (Adam), “Oliver!” (Bill Sykes), “Sweeney Todd” (Anthony), “A Funny Thing… Forum” (Miles), “Into the Woods” (Cinderella’s Prince/Wolf) and “Camelot” (Lancelot).
Born in Scottsdale, Hackmann played ASU Gammage with “Beauty and the Beast” and “Les Miserable.” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” marks the first time in seven years he’s performed in ASU Gammage.
His character, Mr. Salt, is a departure from the film. Mr. Salt is a Russian avant garde millionaire, who wears a giant fur coat and has a white streak in his hair. He calls himself “the love child of Pepe le Pew and The Count from ‘Sesame Street.’”
“Our show is produced by Warner Bros. so it has an element of the Looney Tunes of the ’40s to it,” said Hackmann, who studied music at Central Michigan University and NAU. “It’s zany and crazy. My character is totally over the top and so much fun. I just want the audience to have a good time and be entertained by the out-of-this-world nature of these characters. They won’t be disappointed.”
“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” ASU Gammage, 1200 S. Forest Avenue, Tempe, 480.965.3434, asugammage.com, various times Thursday, June 11, to Tuesday, June 16, tickets start at $30.