WHEN: July 21, 22, 28, 29 at 7 p.m. and July 23 (ASL performance) and 30 at 1 p.m.
WHERE: Orono High School Auditorium, 795 Old Crystal Bay Rd N, Long Lake, MN 55356
PRICES: In advance: $13 adult/ $11 senior/ $9 student; At the door: $15 adult/ $13 senior/ $11 student
Based on Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, the play “Willy Wonka” brings the story to the stage, including favorites such as “Pure Imagination” and “Candy Man,” as well as new songs from Leslie Bricusse (who composed the film). The musical tells the story of how chocolatier Willy Wonka secretes five golden tickets into five of his iconic chocolate bars, which once found, allow the ticketholders a tour of his mysterious factory.
Playing the title role of Wonka has been the dream of Loretto V. Haggart’s since childhood.
“I have been watching the Wilder film since I was three,” Haggart said. “Wonka is a very comedic character, but equally as complex as well, this is an exciting opportunity for a performer who has last played for 4CT in Noel Coward’s “Private Lives.”
What does it take to prepare for the role of a lifetime?
“While I want to honor all the Wonkas who have come before me, I hope to make my Wonka unique,” Haggart stated before adding, “I am also working hard on developing a taste for chocolate.”
Sharing the spotlight with Haggart are five young performers, including Rockford’s Grace Schulte, last seen with 4CT as Bielke in “Fiddler on the Roof,” who now takes her first leading role as protagonist Charlie Bucket.
“Grace brings the honest, sincere disposition needed for the role of Charlie,” Director Thomas Sullivan said “Charlie is the eternal optimist.”
“While the other children arrive at the factory driven by greed and a sense of entitlement, Charlie is excited just to be part of the adventure. As the story unfolds, Charlie’s honesty is put to the test, however.”
Charlie’s overstuffed household (two parents, and four grandparents) is played by two 4CT acting veterans, John Cornell (Grandpa George), and Grace Happe (Mrs. Bucket), two acting newbies, Cindy Haugen (Grandma Josephine) and Lee Ann Howell (Grandma Georgina), and two seasoned local performers, Steve Ramirez (Mr. Bucket) and Dave Eckenrode (Grandpa Joe). The Buckets who have nothing, yet are happier/healthier than those with material wealth.
Joining Charlie in his quest through Wonka’s factory and learning that “things are not always as they seem,” is a quartet of children who personify excess at its worst. Sam Happe stars as the aptly named Augustus Gloop, Harmony Sullivan as the materialistic Veruca Salt, Camille Branham is Violet Beauregard and Sami Rassouli as technology-obsessed Mike Teavee.
Appearing as their woefully inept parents are Gregg Haugen as Mr. Salt, Doreen Sullivan as Mrs. Gloop, Madelyn Roseen as Mrs. Beauregard and 4CT board member Laura Schulte as Ms. Teavee.
Rounding out the cast is an ensemble of talented actors, young and old, who have dedicated much of their summer to share the Wonka magic: Ana Engbloom, Mariana Viquez, Katy Sherman, Maya Haugen, Carter Branham, Josh Roban, Sammi Howell, Bella Sherman, Elie Engel, Grace Riggle, Claire Benway, Beth Cross, Marie Benway, Elle Bokinskie, Hayley Aseltine, Anais Stentz and Lilah Rice portray the iconic Oompa-Loompas, as well as a host of candy-loving townspeople. Tom Barnham represents the popular media, as reporter Phineas Trout.
Bringing the chocolate factory and its inhabitants to life is a set by collaborators Cindy Haugen and Jack Neveaux, costumes by Claudia Kelly and Mary Senneka, lights and projections by Andrew Lunceford, sound design by Peter Skurdalsvold, props by Grace and Joe Happe, choreography by Christy Branham, and vocal and music direction by Dan Oie and Andy Deluca.
Willy Wonka is produced in part through the support of a Metropolitan Regional Arts Commission grant and administratively supported by Orono Community Education.