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
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
Performed April 22 - May 2, 2009.
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
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