Acting, Actor, Actress, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Creative Writing, Fredericksburg, Gene Wilder, Johhny Depp, Performing Arts, Play, Roald Dahl, Stage Door, Theater, Theatre, Virginia, Visual Arts, Willy Wonka
Stage Door Productions’ Kids on Stage proudly presents Willy Wonka Junior! The play is based upon the children’s book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl that was published in 1964. I am sure most of us remember Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka in the movie adaptation, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, that was released in 1971. Tim Burton also released a movie version in 2005 called Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which starred Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka.
We caught up with the Director, Stacy Howell, to learn her feelings about directing Willy Wonka Junior and why she chose this production.
“There is no life I know to compare with pure imagination. Living there, you’ll be free, if you truly wish to be.” One of the most exciting parts of being a kid is that you are truly free to use your imagination. And one of the most exciting parts of directing a kids’ production is to see a child’s imagination come alive.
When asked to direct a show for Kids on Stage, I bounced around several ideas but ultimately decided on Willy Wonka, Jr. This was a story that I was not introduced to until college when I saw a cutting of it at a speech and debate competition. I then sought out and viewed the movie starring Gene Wilder. I loved the characters, story line, and the morals that the story covered. The songs were catchy and it was a story that had more depth than just bright cheery characters.
I also liked the idea of directing this show, as it is a show that can offer a large number of roles, including a large number of substantial male and female roles, rather than just one or two lead roles. It can be rehearsed in small scenes and it is, overall, a large show with a “small show feel” with respect to how the different groups of actors work together and get to know one another.
We decided to take this show in more of the classic Gene Wilder style (as opposed to the Tim Burton adaptation), with a great 70’s look and lots of color. This production is different from the movie in that it is only 90 minutes long and it is one act. The storyline is still effectively intact, but the production moves quickly from one scene to the next, with some great, yet brief dialogue to move the story along. All of the classic scenes are there including Augustus Gloop falling into the Chocolate Fountain, Violet Beauregarde blowing up as a piece of blueberry bubblegum, Veruca Salt falling into the nut sorter, Mike Teavee becoming a mini Mike, and Charlie and Grandpa Joe working on their flying and burping skills. How will they fly? You will have to come out to see for yourself!
The kids have been incredible to work with. We have had an intense rehearsal schedule due to the numerous snow days canceling many of our first rehearsals. But, several of the kids are already off book and belting out songs that we all know and love. The most interesting part is allowing them to create their own characters, their own invention machines, and have them try different things to see what does and does not work.
Everyone from Wonka, to the Grandparents, to the golden ticket winners and their parents, the candy kids, the cooks, the waitresses, the reporter, and even the squirrels, have a moment in this show to shine! We hope that you will join us to see a world that is a child’s… pure imagination.
Be sure to check out this show at Massaponax High School on May 2nd @ 7pm and May 3rd @ 2pm and 7pm. The show will also be presented at Hurkamp Park on May 10th @ 11am and 1pm!