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Review

 
 
Who can take you into the delicious and dreamy world of Pure Imagination? The Candy Man can now that the classic film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, based on Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, has been adapted for the stage. In Young Actor’s Theatre’s production, adorable fourth grader Kori Cook gets the dream going, walking slowly down the theatre aisle, starting a solo version of I Had a Dream from Mamma Mia, before starting the opening lines Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley’s Pure Imagination and politely telling Mr. Wonka, working at his desk, that it’s time to start.

And so begins Director Jean Isaac’s production that takes us into the world of Willy Wonka filled with very clever staging and set devices. A moat between the edge of the stage and a façade running just in front of it connects the waterfall on one side (complete with gurgling sound effect) and a pipe on the other side of the stage so Augustus Gloop can finish his journey from falling into the moat to clogging up the pipe. The moat is also where the boat rows along, with shipmates holding the front and rear of the boat up, and Wonka’s group climbing into the moat in between. The “by gum it’s gum” machine is hilarious – a big machine with a clear globe on top into which an unseen kid down below keeps throwing a ball, eventually popping open a little door through which a hand pokes out with a stick of gum. When Wonka takes it, he thanks the hand, to which the hand gives a thumbs-up sign. For the bubbles and flying scene, bubbles pop out of bubble makers above a steel enclosure that has a forklift poking into it, a fan above them, the forklift lifting Charlie Bucket and Grandpa Joe perilously close to their doom. For Veruca Salt’s I Want It Now, plummeting down a slide into oblivion works well, and a high-tech computer solution gives Mike Teavee his television debut.

There are a couple adults and a handful of high school performers in the show, but the majority of the cast is age thirteen and under. They all bring the dream to life very well, with 22-year-old Luke Benning returning to the YAT stage as the title character. He has a bit of Gene Wilder edge to him dealing with the little brats, which works well. Charlie, of course, is no brat, with 12-year-old Kellen Gaughan doing a good job as an optimistic Charlie Bucket excited to see the magic lying behind Wonka’s factory, and joining his Grandpa Joe (Matt Pospisil) in a well-done duet as they drink some fizzy lifting drinks and almost float through the ceiling fan to heaven.

Other lucky golden ticket holders include nine-year-old Teddy Bohler, who is a hilarious and lively Augustus Gloop, joined by his equally hilarious mom-in-drag, Brandon Hitson, who together really set the stage for the craziness to come with their I Eat More song and dance. The gifted young Brandon Hurst deserves an Emmy as an attention deficit disordered television and video game nut Mike Teavee who also gets in a little Back to the Future guitar action, and is accompanied nicely by his mom (Larissa Kyle). Kenzie Wallace is charmingly bratty as gum-obsessed Violet Beauregarde who has little patience for her amusingly adoring mother (Rebecca Allison). Kelly Prendergast does a nice job with her bossy I Want It Now ode to spoiled brats. Elsewhere, Sarah Solis delivers a gentle, motherly Cheer Up, Charlie, Nick McInvalle is a melodramatically evil Slugworth, Hallie Winters is intrepid candy reporter Penelope Trout, and the chorus of Oompa-Loompas dish out their morality with plenty of charismatic charm, a dash of disco fever, and several cups of unsweetened candor.

Performed March 11 - 21, 2010

Rob Hopper
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Executive Director
National Youth Arts

~ Cast ~

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Willy Wonka:
Luke Benning
Candy Cart Seller: Emily Palmer
Penelope Trout: Hallie Winters
Charlie Bucket: Kellen Gaughan
Mrs. Bucket: Sarah Solis
Grandma Josephine: Olivia Wallace
Grandma Georgina: Liz Austin
Grandpa George: Noah Hartwell
Grandpa Joe: Matt Pospisil
Augustus Gloop: Teddy Bohler
Mrs. Gloop: Brandon Hitson
Veruca Salt: Kelly Prendergast
Mr. Salt: Nick Brammer
Mike Teavee: Brandon Hurst
Mrs. Teavee: Larissa Kyle
Violet Beauregarde: Kenzie Wallace
Mrs. Beauregarde: Rebecca Allison
Camera Person: Sierra Goldstein
Slugworth: Nick McInvalle

Chorus of Cooks:
Jillian Bobof
Adela Colorado
Stefani Rocca
Meagan Newell
Rachel Kolb
Kori Cook
Tia White

Factor Workers/Squirrel Handlers/The Click:
Emily Palmer
Maya Colorado
Meagan Newwell
Michelle Montrose

Candy Kids/Oompa Loompas:
Alexa Cohen
Rachel Kolb
Adela Colorado
Kori Cook
Tia White
Amanda Clifford
Stefanie Rocca
Jillian Bobof
Kaylee Roberts
Rachel Jensen
Celeste Goldstein
Maeci Hartwell
Nicole Gabrielson
Ashley Guzman

Director: Jean Isaac
Choreographer: Rebecca Seiley
Musical Director: Andrew Reynolds



   

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