The second weekend draws near for Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka: The Musical — the story of Charlie Bucket’s adventures visiting Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.
The film starred Gene Wilder when it was released in 1971.
The musical opened Friday and takes the stage Saturday and Sunday downtown at the historic Fox Theater, directed by Scott Carlson, who is also the executive director of the community playhouse.
Sue McKain is the musical director.
Carlson said his cast is combining weeks of preparation with adrenaline to put on a great show to a full playhouse. The Fox Theater typically gets a crowd of 500-700 for musicals, with a seating capacity of 850.
Carlson aims to fill every seat of the theater.
The play is about Charlie Bucket, his impoverished family, his community and competitors. When Charlie finds a lucky ticket, he has the opportunity to merge his fate with Willy Wonka.
Enchanting songs from the 1971 film are performed, along with some new tunes, and although the story is lighthearted, it has a serious moral, Carlson said.
The lead roles are Max Wohler as Willy Wonka, Carlson as the Candy Man, Benjamin Pearce as Phineous Trout and Levi Luenenborg as Charlie Bucket.
The 56-member cast is active throughout the play.
The show ran Feb. 9, 10, 11, and again the upcoming weekend, Feb. 16, 17, 18. Friday and Saturday performances begin at 8 p.m. and Sunday performances start at 2 p.m. Tickets are available before the show at the entrance, or online at www.northplattecommunityplayhouse.com. The cost is $8 for students and $15 for adults.
The idea to perform Willy Wonka: The Musical originated four years ago, but the rights were not available at the time. This time, Carlson finally realized his dream of directing one of his favorite plays.
The idea for the show was developed over two years by the reading committee — eight board and community members who determine the plays that run in a season. Typically, there are two musicals and two non-musicals; however, this season and next season there will be three musicals and one play.
Carlson says “the key to a successful performance is fun.” The cast, directors, orchestra, and technical help are all volunteers, so it is important that rehearsals are enjoyable and it makes the play sparkle.
“I think people who come down from larger cities are really surprised by the quality of our shows.” he said.
Until the weekend, transitions will be tweaked and scene changes will be fine-tuned, completing eight weeks of preparation.
Willy Wonka: The Musical is Carlson’s favorite of the musicals he has directed. Oliver and Marry Poppins are two other top picks.
“The great thing about the theater is there is something for everyone, and there are so many different ways it can be interpreted,” Carlson said.
Carlson started in theater at age 9. He sang in church and school prior to branching out.
“The beauty and the character of this building — how lucky are we to have it?” he said, when asked what he loves most about the historic theater.
The play will run two hours time, including intermission, when snacks and drinks are available for purchase. After the performance, play-goers have the opportunity to meet the cast in the adjoining Patty Birge Room.
Willy Wonka — Max Wohler. Candy Man — Scott Carlson. Phineous Trout — Benjamin Pearce. Charlie Bucket — Levi Luenenborg. Mrs. Bucket — Jocelyn Kennicutt. Mr. Bucket — Lane Swedberg. Grandma Josephine — Becki Wardyn. Grandpa Joe — Tyler Cronin. Grandma Georgina — Traci Sawyer. Grandpa George — Andy Pull. James — Jesse Smith. Matilda — Avery Luenenborg. Augustus Gloop — Connor Robertson. Mrs. Gloop — Teagan Lovelace. Veruca Salt — Madeline Daup. Mr. Salt — Justin Morgan. Mike Teavee — Jonah San Miguel. Ms. Teavee — Tia San Miguel. Violet Beauregarde — Kennedy Pucket. Mrs. Beauregarde — Emma Jorgenson.
Kids Ensemble — Kaylee Carlson, Douglas Titman, Cooper Lange, Alec Winney, Taten Perez, Samuel Dekleva, Naomi Dekleva, Nicholas Zurn, Kaiden Dean, Alexis Dean, Tuesday Allen, Makenna Modlin, Taiea Ochoa, Chloe Ballez, Jasmine Smith, Sabrina Sawyer, Mya Larsen, Dakota Guthrie, Hailey Guthrie, Allison Guthrie, Paxton Robertson, Janalliah Bourgeois, Reagan Lampe, Mackenzie Morton, Ella Harmon, Ally Pierce, Kaylen Hansen, Olivia Phillips, Rachel Young, Ingrid Pull.
Adult Ensemble — Toni Guthrie, Daniel Wardyn, Mahaila Botts, Megan Huddle and Sam Fornander.