By Cary Shuman
Ten-year-old Jake Ryan Flynn is enjoying a sweet and glorious summer starring in the role of Charlie Bucket in Roald Dahl’s new musical, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” on Broadway.
Yes, that Broadway. New York, New York. King of the Hill. A-Number One.
Jake is the son of former Lynn resident and Bishop Fenwick (Class of 1994) softball superstar Mary Wells and Boston media personality and Baltimore Ravens Super Bowl champion Michael Flynn. He is the grandson of retired dentist, Dr. Kevin Wells of Lynn and the late Jean Wells, and Michael Flynn and Kathleen Flynn.
The talented young actor took the Broadway stage on Opening Night in April and he has been performing in front of capacity audiences.
“The show is going very great and I’m really enjoying it,” said Jake.
He was asked how performing on the Broadway stage differs from some of his previous productions such as his work at North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly.
“It’s different because they build bigger sets and do bigger stuff – we have a huge stage, but it’s not really much different, I mean it’s just a really great occupation, it’s really that. And it’s in New York City, of course.”
Jake is experiencing the life of a young celebrity. He signs autographs after shows for adoring fans. He’s met Hugh Jackman (“He’s my favorite actor in the world,” said Jake). He’s appeared on national television shows such as Good Morning America and CBS Sunday Morning. And “Charlie” is earning favorable reviews.
“Broadway’s Big Treat!” says Entertainment Weekly.
One of the prizes of being in a play the magnitude of “Charlie” is that Jake is receiving world-class instruction and performing in a cast of highest-caliber actors and Broadway professionals.
“The directors, the actors, the crew are so amazing,” said Jake. “I’m learning so much from them. It’s really fun to do a show like this. Everybody works hard on this show to make each performance amazing.”
“Charlie” director Jack O’Brien says that Flynn is shining in the role of Charlie Bucket.
“One of the genuine pleasures and delights in the creating and maintaining of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is watching the growth and the sparkle of Jake Ryan Flynn as one of our principal Charlies!” said O’Brien. “He is as fresh and surprising as he is original, and I expect more and remarkable things from him as he continues his journey both in this production, and in future delights down the road.”
Jake said he is grateful to his parents for the sacrifices they have made for him.
“They’ve supported me so much. I mean, they had to move to New York City just for me to do this. My mom and dad switch off being with me and my brothers.”
Mary Flynn, who home schools her son, is overjoyed at the success Jake has attained.
“There’s nothing better as a mother or a father when your child is doing something they love and somehow able to capture their dream at such a young age,” said Mary. “At least no matter what happens, he will always have this moment. It’s like storybook so we understand how fortunate and lucky and exciting this has been. And he’s loving it – he’s doing the cliché of living the dream.”
Mary said she received the magical phone call from the production team after Jake had participated in months of auditions.
“We got a Hershey bar and we put it in wrapping paper and put a golden ticket in it that told him, ‘Congratulations, you’ll be starring as Charlie Bucket – we put it in the mail – because Jake loves getting mail. He opened it and there were so many feelings from excitement to tears in the eyes to ‘I can’t believe it.’’’
And the family is enjoying what Mary calls “the wild ride” of their son, Jake Ryan Flynn, starring on Broadway.