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Children's Theatre's delicious 'Wonka' production

WANT TO GO?

"Willy Wonka Junior"

Presented by the Children's Theatre of Charleston

WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday, 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday

WHERE: Civic Center Little Theater

COST: Adults $12, children (17 and under) $10

INFO: 304-346-0164 or www.ctoc.org

 CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Augustus Gloop falls into a vat of chocolate instead of a river, but when the Children's Theatre of Charleston presents "Willy Wonka Junior" this weekend, the other children still meet the same fates as in Roald Dahl's classic book: Violet Beauregarde still balloons into a giant blueberry, Veruca Salt still falls down the garbage chute and Mike Teevee still shrinks after transmitting himself through the television.

These things take a lot of theatrical magic.

"They're all kind of difficult," said director Kelly Strom. "Each one involves some kind of technical thing. There are lights, sound, a fog machine. There's lots of tech work involved."

She said the candy boat scene is done in blacklight, and when Charlie and Grandpa Joe take flight, it's a trick of light.

Speaking of candy, at each performance, one Golden Ticket will be given at random. Its recipient gets a free basket of Wonka goodies.

The production is based on the 1971 Gene Wilder film and features all its songs and plot. The "Junior" in the title refers only to the shorter running time, which is about an hour.

The word has thrown people before. "It was the same thing with 'Aladdin Jr.,'" Strom chuckled. "People asked, 'Oh, Aladdin had a son?'"

The show has a cast of 83, culled from the more than 150 people who auditioned. It's the largest group Strom has ever worked with.

The veteran director gratefully acknowledges the dozen or so adult actors in the show, who she says are not only good role models, but also help keep things under control. She also has high praise for the children in the cast, who are as young as 5.

"They are honestly the best-behaved and most professionally behaved kids I have worked with to date."

For the first time, the Children's Theatre is using youth backstage. Ten children who Strom said desperately wanted to be part of the production became the running crew, which is responsible for behind-the-scenes duties that help the production run smoothly.

"It's been a great success," Strom said. "The kids have loved it. They have a responsibility and are a part of the show."

The cast features Will Taylor as Willy Wonka and Max Goins, Hannah Strom, Timothy Walker, Julia Preservati and Josh Brennan as Charlie, Violet, Mike, Veruca and Augustus. Bill Rainey is Grandpa Joe and Wyatt Hanna is Veruca's father. Heather Wilson, Tracey Todd and Jessie Murray play the mothers of Violet, Mike and Augustus. Kennie Bass is the Candy Man.

Mary Beth Malcolm is the musical director and Dennis Strom is the technical director. Also involved are Kit Reed, costumer; Sheri Lacy, light designer; Ryan Fletcher, sound engineer and Karin Weingart, prop mistress.

Reach Amy Robinson at flipside@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4881.


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