Staples Players unwrap 'Willie Wonka' this weekend
Updated 4:47 pm, Friday, July 27, 2012
In the 1971 film "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory," Gene Wilder stars in the title role as the eccentric chocolate maker and he sings to five golden ticket-holders, "Come with me and you'll be in a world of pure imagination."
The cast and crew of high school and college students from Westport, Weston, Fairfield and Trumbull in the Staples Players Summer Theatre production of "Willy Wonka" could sing the same lyrics to lure local audiences to their four performances this weekend, beginning Friday through Sunday at Staples High School.
Their version of the classic, comedic musical, based on Roald Dahl's 1964 novel "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," is pure imagination and pure entertainment in its melodies, harmonies, dance moves and spectacular visual and lighting effects to convey all the madcap events that occur.
"The technical (aspects) of this show have to be particularly impressive in meeting the demands of this show," said Will Haskell, 16, of Westport, one of two performers who portray the character of Charlie Bucket.
The plot involves Charlie and four other children who find golden tickets in their Wonka candy bars and are allowed inside the highly secretive Chocolate Factory. It features songs from the film version include the popular "Candy Man.
More InformationHOW SWEET IT IS Staples Players' Summer Theater production of "Willy Wonka" will be performed at 7 p.m. Friday; at 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, and at 2 p.m. Sunday in the Mainstage theater at Staples High School, 70 North Ave. Tickets: $10 for students, $15 for adults. Available at www. staplesplayers.com or at the door 30 minutes before each show. Cash and checks only at the door. Info: www.staplesplayers.com or call 203-341-1310.
Haskell said the effects are used to convey elements of the movie such as a flying sequence, an elevator, a purple faced character, the disappearance of several characters and something blowing up.
Haskell said everyone has probably seen the movie "but on stage it's a whole different experience. Obviously, certain things had to be changed. But we came up with a lot of creative ideas. I love the way we did the shrinking hallway," he said.
"This is probably our biggest technical undertaking for the summer production. We usually have a more complicated set for performances (during the school year)," said Kerry Long, who co-directs the show with David Roth, her husband. Long said this production was a challenge but fun too.
For the first time this year, the young performers were expected to be involved in the technical aspects of the show when they were not on stage, Long said.
Ryan Shea, 17, of Westport, plays Augustus Gloop but he is also serving as the show's assistant director and prop master. "I like acting but I also love the opportunity to get behind the table and work from the other side. I think being an actor is like wearing a tool belt. The more experiences you have the more tools you have on the belt and that will help you in the future," Shea said.
"It's such a different experience. I'm not used to all of these extreme things that Staples Players incorporates into its shows. It's cool to be a part of that," said Daniel Pauker, 14, of Westport, who plays James in one cast and an Oompa Loompa in the second cast of the show.
Pauker had a hectic schedule this summer rehearsing two shows simultaneously. He was also cast in the Westport Summer Teen Theater production of "Little Shop of Horrors." The cast and crew said they anticipate "Willy Wonka" will have universal appeal.
"It's an everybody show. You're not doing it for a specific group of people. It's for ages one to 100," said Maddy Rozynek, 16, of Westport, who plays Violet Beauregarde, one of the five lucky kids to get a golden ticket.
"It's such a classic movie that everybody knows and that people grew up with," said Cara McNiff, 16, of Westport, who also plays Violet.
Will Smith, 17, of Westport, who plays Charlie's father in one cast and an Oompa Loompa in the other, said the characters are very animated. "They're so extreme and different from one another," Smith said.
Rozynek said she has enjoyed developing her character through the rehearsal process and learning how to speak with s southern accent.
The role of Willy Wonka is not double cast. Matthew Van Gessel, 19, of Westport, is the sole performer of that role. Van Gessel, a Staples Players' alumni, has returned from North Carolina School of the Arts where he just completed his freshman year.
"I've been involved in every (Staples Players) production since 2007," said Van Gessel.
HOW SWEET IT IS
Staples Players' Summer Theater production of "Willy Wonka" will be performed at 7 p.m. Friday; at 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, and at 2 p.m. Sunday in the Mainstage theater at Staples High School, 70 North Ave. Tickets: $10 for students, $15 for adults. Available at www. staplesplayers.com or at the door 30 minutes before each show. Cash and checks only at the door. Info: www.staplesplayers.com or call 203-341-1310.