Get your own Golden Ticket to Roald Dahl’s “Willy Wonka Jr.” presented by the William Byrd Players at WBHS this weekend from October 3-6.
Performances are at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, October 6.
The musical is based on the book “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” by Dahl and presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International.
The troupe performs the timeless story of the world-famous eccentric candy man Willy Wonka and his search for an heir.
This shortened version of the play stays true to past movie and stage productions with familiar and toe-tapping songs like “The Candyman,” lots of “Oompa Loompa” chanting, dancing, and good humor. The costumes are stunning as well.
In the storyline, Wonka (played by Zach Minter, in top hat, bowtie, and tails) stages a contest by hiding Golden Tickets in five of his “scrumptious” candy bars. Whoever finds a ticket wins a free tour of his Wonka candy factory, as well as a lifetime supply of candy.
Four of the actors convincingly portray some pretty bratty winners of the tickets— Carter Mullins as Augustus Gloop, an overachieving eater; DeMarion Williams as Mike Teevee, who is not only ill-mannered, but loud and addicted to TV, video games, the Internet, and other technology; Ellie Panko as Violet Beauregarde, gum chewer extraordinaire (wearing an ingenious inflatable costume); and the uppity Veruca Salt, played sneeringly by Maggie Rusinak.
The fifth ticket “finder” is a very likeable youngster named Charlie Bucket (played by Cindel Camper), who takes the factory tour with good-natured, always positive Grandpa Joe (played by Jason Cox.)
Turns out Wonka has some stringent rules for the factory tour along with some dramatic consequences for the four “insufferables,” who are unable to follow them. One falls into a river of chocolate and is sucked down a pipe; a second is so greedy she ends up thrown down a garbage chute by squirrels; another is shrunk as a result of his fascination with extraordinary technology; the last swells to gigantic proportion from eating forbidden gum.
The cast of about 30, ranging from grades one through 12, includes 10 adorable Oompa-Loompas with notable neon green wigs.
The Oompa Loompas are Kenleigh Heatherington, Sophie Hoagland, Lucy Lineburg, Sydney Nichols, Sadie Panko, Brody Parrish, Abigail Saritelli, Nicholas Toney, Holden White, and Collin Pero.
Other cast members include Connor Pero as Mr. Bucket, Charlie’s father; Tori Lovern as Mrs. Bucket; Kaiya Hoagland as an over-indulgent Mrs. Gloop; Kim Hoyle as reporter Penelope Trout who announces the Golden Ticket winners; David Scott as Mr. Salt who believes money CAN buy everything; Callie Dowdy as Mrs. Beauregarde; Elizabeth Young as Mrs. Teevee; Kallie Parrish as Grandma Josephine; Hayden Davis as Grandpa George; Bronwyn Fenimore as Grandma Georgina; Annika Hoagland as Matilda; Ella Mullins as the Squirrel; and Leo Hartless as James, with Emma Hartless as the indomitable candy store owner.
The musical is staged and directed by Carol Webster, director of the RCPS Center for Performing Arts and theatre arts teacher at William Byrd. Assistant director and choreographer is Emma Hartless.
Crew members include unflappable stage manager Eric Oliver; stage crew members Alli Smerechki, Ian Grome, and Ivy Mitchell; sound, Chayton Bearings and McKinley Figart; lights, David Scott, Milla Farrington; spotlight, Sam Toney; and costumers, Kelly Hoagland and Danielle Hartless.
The stage decorations are ambitious, and colorful, and some repurposed, including lollipops from a long-ago prom at William Byrd with a Candyland theme.
Cool fact about this production: the mothers of the two lead characters (Minter and Camper) are former theatre students at Byrd, indicating the depth of the program in creating generational performing artists.
The production lasts about 90 minutes with one intermission between acts.
Take a look at The Vinton Messenger Facebook page this week to see more photos of what you might be missing if you don’t get your Golden Ticket to the performances— just $5 for students and senior citizens; $7 for adults. Performances are in the auditorium at William Byrd.