Willy Wonka, Jr.
by Audience of One Youth Theater

Audience of One, a relatively new faith-based youth theatre company in the Denver area, recently presented “Willy Wonka Jr.”  The show is based on the 1970s-era movie and employs a cast of school children, grandparents, parents and Oompa Loompas.  Roald Dahl’s book, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” was the catalyst for the movie version.  The story offers a poor young child, Charlie Bucket, whose father’s meager salary must support not only his wife, child and himself, but also four bedridden grandparents.  Young Charlie dreams of visiting the local candy factory, which was shut down many years ago.  A promotion from the candymaker starts the ball rolling to allow five lucky children to visit the factory.  Chaos ensues, five Golden Tickets are found inside the candyman’s “Wonka Bars,” and off the children go, each with a guest, to the mysterious factory. 

Audience of One is off to a bang-up start, with much support from the local community.  Everything is in place for them to give children a wonderful experience in the world of theatre.  There were a few house issues that need attention, but as they fine tune their program, things will likely fall into place.  The doors did not open until 5 minutes before show time, causing a chaotic atmosphere in the lobby.  There was very bizarre pre-show music playing (presumably the sounds of the factory?) that were grating and confusing.  The show started about 15 minutes behind schedule.  Once the show began, though, so did the fun. 

The sets were imaginative & terrific and the production very well designed for the space, a civic multi-use facility in Parker, Colorado.  Costumes were wonderful - very creative and coordinated.  Audience of One employs a great deal of help from the parents in the program.  Several of the costumes and much of the set is strikingly well done, from the first factory reveal to the sparklingly green-haired Oompa Loompas.  The choreography was also wonderful - appropriate for the varied ages and the style.  There was some balance issue with the music, the performers who were wearing microphones, and the performers who were not amplified.  

Then there are the performances.  Payton Cox as Willy Wonka has a fine singing voice and wowed with several different accents, from Old Scottish to Austrian bodybuilder.  In an unusual move for this show, Lea Wright was cast as the Candy Man instead of having Mr. Wonka play that role.  Lea also has a nice singing voice and added some very polished moments in the show.  Harrison Bradley as Grandpa Joe gave a soft-spoken, well-done performance and was a favorite of this reviewer.  Charlie is played here by a young lady, Hannah Tuggle, also a fine actress and singer.   The other children who tour the factory with Charlie are integral to the story and the show’s success.  Tanner Childs played Augustus Gloop, accompanied by his mother, Sami Vaughn.  They are nicely paired for “I Eat More,” one of the show’s funnier moments.  Anna Melkonian plays Veruca Salt, the bratty and greedy daughter of Jared Nelson’s Mr. Salt.  Sarah McMillan shines as gum-chewing, southern-accented Violet Beauregarde with Meredith Ham as her mother.  Kyle Tuggle is Mike Teavee, paired with his mother, Taylor Kinsman, who enjoys some very nice “mother moments.”  Bailey DeBerry is Phineous Trout, who is the reporter who ties the whole promotions idea together. 

It really seems that the children involved had a positive experience with being part of “Willy Wonka Jr.”   Congratulations to Director Ralph Neumann, Music Director Kathy Ballenger and Choreographers Liane Adamo and Austin Lee on their production.

Performed April 22 - May 2, 2009.

Tammy Franklin
National Youth Theatre

~ Cast ~

Willy Wonka: Payton Cox
Candy Man: Lea Wright
Mr. Bucket: Alex Blake
Mrs. Bucket: Angel Luckenbach
Charlie Bucket: Hannah Tuggle
Grandpa Joe: Harrison Bradley
Veruca Salt: Anna Melkonian
Mr. Salt: Jared Nelson
Mike Teavee: Kyle Tuggle
Mrs. Teavee: Taylor Kinsman
Mrs. Beauregarde: Meredith Ham
Violet Beauregarde: Sarah McMillan
Augustus Gloop: Tanner Childs
Mrs. Gloop: Sami Vaughan
Phineous Trout: Bailey DeBerry
Grandpa George: Madison DeBerry
Grandma Georgina: Hannah McSwain
Grandma Josephine: Elizabeth Szilagyi
James/Oompa Loompa: Kellon Mitchell
Matilda/Oompa Loompa: Alexis Garramone
Oompa Loompa soloist #1/candy man kid: Caroline Bradley
Oompa Loompa soloist #2/candy man kid: Blaike Hildebrand
Oompa Loompa soloist #3/candy man kid: Keila Kuntz
Oompa Loompa soloist #4/candy man kid: Paige Lampe
Oompa Loompa soloist #5/candy man kid: Alayna Luckenbach
Oompa Loompa/candy man kid: Tiara Childs
Oompa Loompa/candy man kid: Katie Smith
Oompa Loompa/candy man kid: Alexis Fiechtner
Oompa Loompa/candy man kid: Gable Kinsman
Oompa Loompa/candy man kid: Kayla Lampe
Oompa Loompa/candy man kid: Drew Marien
Oompa Loompa/candy man kid: Brandon Dodd
Oompa Loompa/candy man kid: Chandler Taittinger

Josh Kinsman
Gabi Oltman-Reid
Emmye Wright
Noah Szilagyi
Katelyn Fenner
Maddy Ham
Joshua Smith 
Michael Smith


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