Darien Musical Theater Workshop presents ‘Willy Wonka Jr.’ this weekend
The Darien Musical Theater Workshop will bring Roald Dahl’s book “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and the “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” film to life on stage this Thursday. Words and music by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley and adapted for the stage by Bricusse and Timothy A. McDonald, Director Rebecca Salgado and a cast of 62 students from grades six to 10 will recreate the fantastic classic.
Filled with choreography and comedic flare, the students of the Musical Theater Workshop embody the fun, fantasy world of Dahl. Although the same characters are portrayed, there are modern modifications made that make the story more relatable.
Charlie Bucket, the main character, is being played by CJ Shore and Willy Wonka is being played by John Raskopf. Raskopf described his character as “the main storyteller who guides Charlie to success.”
Luke Ryan plays Mike Teavee, saying, “I love getting to experiment with this side of acting. Instead of being a smiley kid, I get to be an angry teen who only likes TV.” He shares scenes with Phoebe Bryan, who plays his Mike’s mother, and executes impressive choreography.
Bryan said she and Salgado did their research on the tango number’s choreography from other Willy Wonka Jr. plays, but decided to add more flare and emotion to a scene that tends to get over looked.
Adding to the playful atmosphere of the story, Ava Faugno who plays Scarlett Beauregarde, the mother of Violet, said her role is really fun because there is room for improvisation at certain points in the show.
Director Rebecca Salgado commented on working with a large cast.
“It has been the greatest experience working with 62 students. When I had first started as a director of the Musical Theatre Workshop in 2014, we had an enrollment of 30 kids. As the program began to expand we saw our numbers absolutely explode! There are varying experience levels within the cast and they are able to not only learn from me as a director but learn from each other,” she said.
On opening night, she said, “There is nothing more exciting than the thrill and adrenaline that you feel on opening night! Our program is truly unique in that what normally takes months to assemble, we put together in the matter of four and a half weeks.”
The message of this play hits closer to come with Salgado. She shared how Willy Wonka’s story connects to hers. “After six years of being the director of the musical theater workshop I have had to make the difficult decision to move on to new adventures in my new home in Cape Cod. I explained to the kids that I connect with the storyline because he has built his factory from the ground up, but all the love in the world cannot keep him with his factory. He knows that he must pass it along and I told the kids that I must to do the same.”
Willy Wonka Jr. will be playing at Darien High School on Thursday, July 25 and Friday at 7 pm as well as this Saturday at 2 p.m. Tickets, available at the door, are $10 for adults and $5 for children.