Willy Wonka And The Chocolate
Factory 2018

  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. 

 

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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

YC Nina Worsley: Candy Confection

Nina was called to lead many facets of the musical, her performance was exceptional!

“From the first day I walked into bootcamp…….. to the very last day on the stage, when a little girl in the cast came up to me, hugged me as tight as she could, and walked away [she left] an impact she didn’t even understand……..Impact is a labyrinth that we have to navigate through.”

Darian Gaten: Oompa Loompa
 

We had a blast reimagining the Oompa’s for the stage, and Darian led the way.

“From the moment we were introduced, mixing the chocolate river to our last song after Mike TV shrunk to the size of an action figure, we did our best to put a smile on people’s faces while still revealing truth to everyone who came to watch the show. As long as we’ve done that- then we’ve done our job! …………… I gotta say, it was a blast!”

 

YC Payton Brogna: Veruca Salt

SFA couldn’t wait to see Payton become Veruca for the audience!

“Every time I walk on stage, energy and excitement rush through my body. Hearing the audience clap and cheer is a great feeling, but just knowing that you were able to share and let them be part of your story is something truly incredible.”

With One of our greatest Christmas show crowds we had over 1,800 in attendance

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Thank You To Each Patron!

Thank YOu!

To every single business and person who helped THOUSANDS find Christmas at the Chocolate Factory

News Coverage

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!

It all began with one phone call. One phone call and what was to become one of our most successful shows in the history of SFA was put into motion. 
 
That first phone call was made to the CEO of WB Studios. We didn’t know how our request would be received, if it had been asked in the past, what the protocol would be, or if we were even asking the right person. But it was so important to us that if we were going to perform this show we wanted to perform a version that we knew and loved. We wanted our audiences to feel nostalgic as they heard the very same words spoken by the iconic Gene Wilder in 1971. 
 
So after a few back and forths and a little phone tag we received the email that gave us permission to be the FIRST company to put the 1971 film, “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” on the big stage! Needless to say, we were ecstatic! With permission granted and our venue confirmed at the beautiful and historic Mauch Chunk Opera House of Jim Thorpe, PA we felt like Christmas came early for 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

Meeting with Ian Holmes and the creative team.

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. 

Cassius landed the role of MIKE TV!!!

   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!  

Rehearsals are always fun!

Little Miana’s got the whole cast in her hands!

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. 

Jewel talks to our cast as we wrap up for the night

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. 

We start every rehearsal with a team building warm up!

We’re all in this together!

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-quite set

Jorne and Bruce hand building our unique set.

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.

     In areas where we didn’t have the resources to recreate elements of the movie such as the beloved Oompa-Loompas, we tried to offer the same amusement factor as when audiences first watched the movie. Originally no one could have expected tiny men… And subsequently now no one could’ve expected a holographic glowing boy band.

Our Uncle Joe helped us to make our vision come to life!

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.

Finished!

  As with every show, we do everything we can to ensure a good audience for every performance.
 
On our end we hung hundreds of posters, handed out thousands of postcards, secured several billboards and even put little candy jar contests at participating businesses to get the word out there offering free tickets to the winners. We also enlisted the help of our cast to sell tickets to their friends and family. It was truly a group effort! But unfortunately, no matter how much advertising we do we will never be absolutely certain what our audience will be for each performance. 

Crowds flooded the lobby wanting autographs from our Oompa-Loompahs

   Well, we are proud to announce that we performed “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” for over 1,900 patrons from all over PA and beyond! And not only that but the feedback we heard was phenomenal! There were people that came one night and then came AGAIN bringing with them friends or family. The whole town of Jim Thorpe was buzzing with excitement over this show as well.

Many schools brought groups of kids and they loved meeting Ian Holmes as Wonka

The shop owners were proud to tell their customers about the amazing show happening right in their backyard, the tourists who come there every year were happy to enjoy something new this holiday visit, the locals even into the neighboring towns were spreading the news like wildfire and we were sort of like local celebrities as we were being recognized everywhere we went! It was incredible! The seats were full every night and everyone leaving from that theatre left with this magical feeling in their hearts that you could just see on their faces as they walked out the door. 

Audiences members LOVED this show!

  The response was just overwhelmingly positive and it made this experience one we will never forget! We were able to bring a whole town together over good, wholesome, entertaining, family fun!

 

And finally, a toast! We’d like to raise a toast to everyone who was a part of this magic. 
 
A toast first and foremost to our beautiful cast! You truly made this show come to life in ways we never even imagined. You came together just when we needed to and not only performed a show that will be remembered for years to come but also created a lasting family that will never disband. 
 
Next to our volunteers. You were few but mighty! The parents and friends that came to almost every performance willing and ready to work happily and efficiently made sure our patrons were satisfied and ran a tight ship every night. Thank you!
 
Next toast to our sponsors. This show would not have happened without your support of our cause and mission. Being a non-profit we rely on our sponsors to be able to produce these professional productions and you did not let us down! We appreciate every single one of you for helping us bring to life our unique vision. 
 
And finally a toast to YOU, our audience! You are the reason we can continue making Sing for America magic. You are the reason we keep planning the next show and the next show and the next show. Every production we do, we do for our YOU, our audience. And you keep coming back so we must be doing something right. Thank you for keeping Sing for America alive and well! We’ll see at the next one!
 
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