The timeless story of a poor youngster who becomes a successor to a candy empire is sure to entertain audiences of all ages, as part of this year’s Elk County Catholic High School Drama Department’s production of “Willy Wonka.”
“Though there has been a movie version since the 70s, the stage adaptation is relatively recent,” said Ted Hanes, drama department director. “This show is a fun show that will not only entertain the children in the audience, but also the adults.”
The curtain will rise on the “scrumdidilyumptious” production on Thursday evening at 7 p.m. Additional show times take place during the same time on Friday and Saturday, along with a 3 p.m. performance on Sunday.
A 33-member cast, along with an additional 25-member crew that includes those working backstage and with light and sound effects, have been putting the final touches on the show during this week’s dress rehearsals.
According to Hanes, pre-auditions for the production were held during the second week of school. These helped him gauge the number of students interested in participating. Auditions were then held the following week.
Over the past two months, the cast and crew have gathered for practices four nights a week for approximately two hours.
“I usually wait to see who is interested in participating to pick the show based on our personnel. This seemed to be a good fit based on who we have in the cast,” Hanes said.
Adding to the humorous dialogue is a handmade set, including a unique turntable system designed by Hanes.
“I thought of the revolving stage for a few reasons. There are a great deal of very quick scene changes, so it helps with the flow of the show and keeping the shows’ transitions to a minimum,” Hanes explained. “It will also be used for some of the special effects that we need.”
Volunteer Mike Engel completed the turntable’s technical design, while a group of parents, students and former students helped build the piece.
Also part of the set is a massive chocolate factory, positioned along a wall adjacent to the stage. The structure was originally constructed as Cinderella’s castle during last year’s musical. Volunteers, including Elaine Brem, Stacey Brem and Mary Ellen Hawkins, transformed the structure into a colorful chocolate factory, complete with towers overflowing with chocolate, bright pipes running throughout and oversized pieces of candy decorations. Atop the factory is a flashing sign; Wonka narrates a portion of the musical nearby.
“The factory gives us more room to act and brings the show a little closer to the audience,” Hanes said.
This year marks Hanes’ 15th production as a director. He noted each show poses unique challenges.
“This show was challenging for a number of reasons. It is a large cast with a lot of named roles, soloists and chorus. There is also the special scenes that are required as each of the five children tour the factory,” he explained. “For anyone that is familiar with the show, they will be expecting to see those aspects. We wanted to do our best to bring those special effects from the movie version alive on the stage.”
For more information on this story see the November 17th edition of The Daily Press.