Sam Mendes’ Neal Street Productions, the company he set up with his former Donmar Warehouse producer Caro Newling, is reportedly working on a stage adaptation of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. And we hear that Michael Ball is in discussions to take the title role, following in the footsteps of Gene Wilder and Johnny Depp, who played the eccentric Wonka in, respectively, the 1971 and 2005 film versions of Roald Dahl’s 1964 children’s book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

The new musical will have a book by Scottish playwright David Greig and music and lyrics by Hairspray’s Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman. It’s aiming for a West End opening in mid-2011.

Michael Ball won both the Olivier and Whatsonstage.com Awards for Best Actor in a Musical for creating the cross-dressing role of Edna Turnblad in the West End production of Hairspray. His many other musical credits include originating the musical role of another eccentric children’s book character, Caractacus Potts in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the London Palladium.