Saturday, April 19, 2014

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Chocoholics Rejoice! The show will go on!

'Willy Wonka' coming to Central High performing arts stage

Charlie Bucket, played by Eddie Bruning, discusses life and chocolate with his grandparents, played by Carolyn Loughran, Derek Sherry, Chloee Peets and Sterling Sykes. The poor family often dines on leftover cabbage soup, except for the annual birthday gift of a bar of Wonka chocolate. Grandpa George (Sherry) leans in to hear his grandson better, as he is very hard of hearing.

Photo by Emily Mentzer

Charlie Bucket, played by Eddie Bruning, discusses life and chocolate with his grandparents, played by Carolyn Loughran, Derek Sherry, Chloee Peets and Sterling Sykes. The poor family often dines on leftover cabbage soup, except for the annual birthday gift of a bar of Wonka chocolate. Grandpa George (Sherry) leans in to hear his grandson better, as he is very hard of hearing.

February 04, 2014

INDEPENDENCE — Warning: attending Central High School's production of "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" may induce cravings of chocolate, laughter and warm feelings throughout.

The Central High School drama department isn’t going to let a little snow ruin its fun. After having to cancel all four of its scheduled performances last week due to the wintry weather, “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” will take the stage this week beginning Wednesday (tonight) at 7 o’clock in the CHS auditorium. For more details, see Page 20A or the Feb. 5 issue of the Itemizer-Observer for a complete preview of the play.

Photo by Emily Mentzer

The Central High School drama department isn’t going to let a little snow ruin its fun. After having to cancel all four of its scheduled performances last week due to the wintry weather, “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” will take the stage this week beginning Wednesday (tonight) at 7 o’clock in the CHS auditorium. For more details, see Page 20A or the Feb. 5 issue of the Itemizer-Observer for a complete preview of the play.

The play is about young Charlie Bucket, who comes from a rather poor family. His four grandparents share one bed and are the source for much advice, "Think positive!" and humor, as one of his grandparents, Grandpa George, played by Derek Sherry, cannot hear well.

Frequently Grandpa George hears things such as "jar of brandy," instead of "bar of candy."

The production includes students from every school districtwide in grades 4-12.

Director Jeff Witt chose the play specifically for the variety of characters rather than a leading man, leading lady play.

"I picked this play based on who I have in school this year," he said. "There's a bunch of characters in it."

Among those is young Violet Beauregarde, played by junior Taylor Ashton. Her character is notorious for gum chewing, having broken records for chewing the same piece of gum for months on end.

The Candyman, played by Nick Quinn, sings homage to candy in Central High’s production of “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” opening Thursday.

Photo by Emily Mentzer

The Candyman, played by Nick Quinn, sings homage to candy in Central High’s production of “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” opening Thursday.

To prepare for the role, Ashton has been practicing her gum-chewing skills, trying out a variety of gum.

"The best kind is Hubba Bubba bubble gum, the original," she said before a dress rehearsal on Jan. 23. "I get in trouble sometimes for smacking my gum too loud in class or at home."

The production closely follows the original 1971 musical starring Gene Wilder, said Witt, with a few exceptions.

"We're using squirrels with nuts instead of geese with eggs, which is more like the book," he said. No, he doesn't have a pack of trained squirrels, but rather two children dressed as squirrels to play the part.

Violet, Charlie, Augustus Gloop, Veruca Salt and Mike Teavee — along with their chaperones — are the five lucky winners of the chocolate factory tour.

Of course, it is young Charlie, who comes from a very meager home, who will last until the end of the tour. The others' greed gets them into shenanigans only solvable by the mysterious little people who help Wonka run the factory: the Oompa Loompas.

Students in fourth through seventh grade were chosen from 67 kids who tried out for the 10 roles, Witt said.

Phineous Trout (Jacob Eschette) interviews Mike Teavee (Nathaniel Miller) and his mom, Ms. Teavee (Amanda Loop), after Mike finds a coveted golden ticket.

Photo by Emily Mentzer

Phineous Trout (Jacob Eschette) interviews Mike Teavee (Nathaniel Miller) and his mom, Ms. Teavee (Amanda Loop), after Mike finds a coveted golden ticket.

Oompa Loompa Zack Vinyard, a seventh-grader, said he is short for his age, but it worked out for him so he could be in the play.

The sheer number of young actors is challenging, Witt said, but he enjoys working with the children.

"I love getting a chance to work with little kids and get them excited," he said.

Perhaps a bigger challenge is putting on a musical already made into a movie.

"It's a lot easier to create magic in a movie," he said.

The story takes place in two scenes: one is a drab-looking town, where Charlie and the Bucket family live; the other is the brightly colored chocolate factory.

"We actually utilized the fly system," Witt said. "We're getting to use some new things we haven't used in the past."

A fly system is a series of ropes and pulleys used to move and hang scenery and other things.

The musical productions are paid for entirely by admissions and concessions sales, and not through district dollars, Witt said, adding that he is grateful for the community and parent support.

It's Showtime at Central!

What: "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory," presented by Central High School's theater program.

When: Wednesday through Saturday and Feb. 12-15. All performances start at 7 p.m. A matinee is also planned for Saturday at 2 p.m. Additional shows may be scheduled Feb. 20-21 as well. Snow canceled four scheduled performances last week.

Where: Central High School auditorium, 1530 Monmouth St., Independence.

Admission: Tickets are $8.50 for adults and $5.50 for those 17 and under. Student tickets are $3 on Thursday and Feb. 12. Alumni pay $5 on Feb. 12. Elementary school students who have a coloring sheet (see individual buildings) with them may enter for $3 on Saturday. Purchases can now be made online at www.centralperformingarts.com. Tickets can also be purchased at the door or by calling 503-838-0480.

For more information: 503-838-0480.

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