Willy Wonka And The Chocolate
MAUCH CHUNCK OPERA HOUSE
When we set out on a path to produce this all time favorite we hoped it would be special, it was even more than we hoped for. The 1971 film came to life on our stage, in a way that was unique and poignant for our Christmas MainStage production. The show left us remembering that ‘We are the music makers, we are the dreamers of dreams’ and a ‘Good dead shines in a weary world’…..hopefully inspiring us all to let the gobstopper stay.
Warner Brothers Studios granted Sing For America a single time license to produce the 1971 movie script live in Jim Thorpe , Pa!
Our 32nd musical was difficult, challenging, and oh so rewarding. Calling for the magic of the story to come alive through the power of the cast and their connection.
Ian Holmes: Willy Wonka
‘I Haven’t met the Oompa Loompa yet who could do it’
Ian Holmes was our very own Willy Wonka. Excited to have him, the cast was energized by his performance
With One of our greatest Christmas show crowds we had over 1,900 in attendance
To every single business and person who helped THOUSANDS find Christmas at the Chocolate Factory
The SFA family was blessed to make a buzz and get great coverage from area outlets
Warner Brothers Studios
From 'Ticket' To 'Toast'
This show was truly a journey, from SFA’s very own GOLDEN TICKET from WB, to the New Years Champagne toast! Please enjoy it with us!
That email was our GOLDEN TICKET to one of the most rewarding, humbling, successful and fun musicals in SFA history. It was time for us to meet Wonka at the gates and prepare to enter the doors of the factory!
We had our work cut out for us this time around with creating a cast. We had to find a crazy Wonka, a loving Charlie, a fun Grandpa Joe, and everyone in between!
We had a lot of awesome auditionees and the cast we were able to put together was phenomenal. We took our inspiration for this production from the original 1971 movie so we needed a cast that embodied that. A group of actors that were able to
make the audience feel like they actually stepped into the Chocolate Factory not that they were just watching it on stage. And we got all we hoped for and more in the wonderful people that we got to work with on creating this magical show.
Ian Holmes was our Willy Wonka. He was able to channel all the quirks and wierdness along with the love and depth that makes up the title character. Not to mention he sang pure imagination like no other!
We found our Grandpa Joe in Nick Nelson. Although he is no where near old enough to be an actual grandpa, when he was on that stage he completely transformed. He became an old man through and through and made everyone feel like Charlie was his own.
Abraham Pla and Jacob Piccini were both the ever endearing Charlie Bucket. They both brought something totally different but equally enticing to the character that really made Charlie come to life!
One thing that we did entirely different from the movie were the oompa loompas! We took the biggest and tallest boys in the cast and modelled them after the boy bands of the 90s. It might sound a bit at first but they were a favorite of every performance!!! It was a super fun change that we all were extremely happy with! And those are only to name a few! Every other cast member was just as perfect for their part as the ones mentioned. It was a great journey and we were blessed to have everyone join us for the fantastic adventure it was!
Rehearsals began and we dove right in to Charlie’s and Wonka’s world!
With the perfect cast assembled we were so excited to work with everyone and see these characters come to life. One of our goals with this production was for our cast members to truly embody Roald Dahl’s characters the way they were imagined in the film, but with a personal exaggerated twist for the stage. Another goal was to make our audience forget we didn’t have an actual river of chocolate on stage or camera tricks making rooms grow and shrink, etc. and show, in yet another way, that theatre is about the suspension of disbelief! As long as our actors believed it, the audience would follow suit.
Just as in every show, we were threw a few unexpected curveballs along the way. Not only that but this script was made with short fast cuts because it was made for the screen. So we had to be creative and find unique ways to keep the flow. The pace of this show was particularly important because with the lack of musical numbers we had to be sure the dialogue was tight and clear. We were so used to multiple big showy song and dance numbers to break up the dialogue so this was such a different experience for us.
Becoming these characters proved challenging because each one is so deep in what they represent. We wanted to bring into it Roald Dahl’s purpose in writing this book which meant each cast member had to find how they connected with their character and think about it with every line, every move, every action and every reaction. We made sure they delved deep into their character’s purpose and focused on every little nuance. We wanted our audience to relate to these characters, remember these characters and feel connected to the message of this show from beginning to end. I believe we achieved our goal!
So how do you take something so nostalgic and revive those memories without cloning what cannot be cloned?
And how do you introduce this story, provoking that same mysterious, frightening at times, yet completely heartwarming sensation for fresh eyes? In conceiving this production aesthetically our goal was to hit both those major targets: excite the Wonka veterans, excite the Wonka green. Give them the character of the 70s with the complexion of the now, therefore giving just what the movie gave: an ambiguous, almost-futuristic-but-not-
ting that’s neither too close nor too far from home; where everyone you meet is a caricature yet not alien, and everything that happens is almost like a dream, but a tangible one that makes you believe it just might happen to you.
We didn’t find it important to focus on “tricks” and “magic” because the magic of this show lies within the mind and of course the soul. Too much distraction would’ve robbed the audience of experiencing that in the purest way possible. We strived to incite complete surrender of imagination and immersiveness in this world that used shapes and colors to create a motif so sugary and delicious you wanted to taste it.From spinning walls to dancing geese everything was designed to pace the story true to the original, highlight the personalities we so badly need to see and reflect on, and frame the moments that make Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
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