Article from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”
Sure, this is a play about candy, kids, and strange little people called oompa loompas. Its got to be lots of fun and laughs.
But there is something more underneath all the merrymaking.
“It’s got some really nice solid messages about how you should treat other people,” said Tracey Vaughan, director of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory that opens tonight at the Lake City Playhouse.
Based on the book by Roald Dahl, the play tells the story of a young boy, Charlie Bucket, who lives in poverty with his parents and grandparents.
“He can’t afford really to have the nexxessities of life, let alone to have the extras and chocolate and fun,” Vaughan said.
The bizarre owner of the chocolate factory in town, Willy Wonka, hides just five golden tickets in millions of candy bars that are sold throughout the world. the five who find the tickets will be allowed inside the high-security building where candy and more await. Charlie buys the bar with the fifth and final ticket.
An amazing adventure awaits inside Wonka’s World.
Vaughan said younger audiences today have probably see last year’s movie version starring Johnny Depp, while older audiences have likely seen the version released in 1971 starring Gene Wilder.
The Playhouse version is its own sotry, Vaughn said.
As director, she said she focused ont he family aspect of the story, not on making Willy Wonka overly strange.
“Whats important to note is the message of the story is to remain simple and generaous an dkind, and place family before any kind of riches,” she said.
The cast mebers are all kids, ranging in ages from 6 to 16. the case and crew includes more than 50.
“It really feels like an all-childrens production,” Vaughan said. “They’re really dedicated to telling the stroy correctly.”
Working with children has its challenges, she said, but also many rewards. They are high-energy, enthusiastic and anxious to perform before an audience.
“I absolutely love it”, said Vaughan, who recently opened “Stage Directions,” which offers acting programs for children.
The cast includes: Mitch Shellman as Charlie; Alex Touchton as Willy Wonka; Bryant Larsen as Grandpa Joe; Spencer Smith as Augustus Gloop, Taylor Kowalski as Violet Beauraegarde, Jordan Ferraro as Veruca Salt, and Dominic Tatroff as Mike Teevee.
Charlie is the nicest one of the bunch and it shows in his realationship with his family. Vaughan said.
“All the other kids are spoiled and bratty,” said Vaughan, who is also working iwth Coeur D’ Alene Charter Academy in developing a drama club there. “Charlie is the underdog.”
Shellman and Touchton have the lead roles and do well, she said.
Shellman, 12, had small roles in “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”, and “The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe”, and played Jim in “Treasure Island”.
“He’s a dead ringer for the character of Charlie,” Vaughan said. “I’ve given him very little direction. He didn’t neet it.”
Touchton, who attends Coeur D’ Alene Highs School, and is working under Vaughan’s direction for the first time.
“He’s a great Willy Wonka. He’s a kid wotj great ta;emt amd energy.”
Touchton said he watched both Wonka movies to prepare for his role. He will try to create a character that includes aspects of both Wilder’s and Depp’s Wonka.
“He’s kind of liek a 5-year old. Super Hyper, jumping around a lot, there is a lot of energy”, Touchton said.
Larsen believes it will be a great show. As Grandpa Joe, his character is a nice “Kind hearted old man.”
“He wants the best for Charlie,” Larsen said.
Shellman, who prefers the Charlie of the original wonka move, plans to play the character as someone who is shy and quiet, yet brave enough to stand up for his family and what he believes is right and wrong.
“Its a good family show ave everybody can watch it”, said Shellman.
A highlight of the play will be the 18 oompa loompas. Vaughan said they are a vital part of the story and orchestrate many of the pratfalls and pranks that await the children as the tour the indoor candy land.
“They’re so darn cute,” Vaughan said. “The really are kind of the mastermind behind teaching the kids the lessons.”
Vaughan, by the way, prefers Gene Wilders version of Willy Wonka over Johnny Depp’s.
“Its what I grew up on,” She said. “Its more down to earth and kinder.”