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August 12, 2004
Loompas steal the show
by ELLIN BELTZ
THE FERNDALE REPERTORY THEATRE
STRIKES holiday gold with its musical The World of Willie Wonka,
adapted by director Vikki Young from the late Roald Dahl's well-known
children's book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which
also inspired the 1971 Gene Wilder movie Willy Wonka &
the Chocolate Factory.
Narrator (Kelsey Wortman) and
two newspaper criers (Louis Sterback and Maya Schubert) rapidly
advance the story, preventing the sort of long speeches which
bogged down the film.
Charlie Bucket (charming and
natural Jared Basquez), a poor boy who lives down the street
from the factory, stares through the locked gates and dreams
of chocolate. He yearns to win one of five Golden Tickets to
enter the Wonka factory. Predictably, he wins the last one and
can take his Grandpa Joe (played to perfection by veteran actor
Bob Clark) with him on the tour.
[LEFT TO RIGHT:
GRANDPA JOE (BOB CLARK), CHARLIE BUCKET (JARED BASQUEZ), AUGUSTUS
GLOOP (LUCAS WENNERHOLM), MIKE TEAVEE (KYLE AMBROSINI), VERUCA
SALT (DERBY MCLAUGHLIN) AND WILLIE WONKA (TURNER BAZEN). PHOTO
COURTESY DAN TUBBS]
Grandpa tells Charlie that Willie
Wonka (Turner Bazen), a reclusive capitalist, runs the World's
Biggest Candy Factory, but no one knows how. Tired of having
his secret recipes stolen, one day he fired every worker and
adopted the motto "Nobody ever goes in, nobody ever comes
When the Candy Man finally appears
and the gates of the factory swing open, the audience can barely
wait for the four horrible children to meet their individual
desserts. Greedy boy Augustus Gloop (Lucas Wennerholm), spoiled
rich brat Veruca Salt (Derby McLaughlin), gum popping Violet
Beauregarde (Rebecca Davis) and television-addicted Mike Teavee
(Kyle Ambrosini) are interviewed by a marvelously expressive
Radio Announcer (Samantha McLaughlin), revealing much of their
flawed characters, which Wonka later exploits to their peril.
Like many morality plays, people
either love this story or hate it. Mis-Wonka-nists point out
that the 1964 book described the Oompa Loompas as being pygmies
from the "very deepest and darkest part of the African jungle
where no white man had been before." But by the time the
movie was made in 1971, revisionists tried to save the rest of
the tale by making the Oompa Loompas into a group of orange-skinned
refugees from some mysterious Balkan conflict.
Regardless of previous incarnations,
the FRT's Oompa Loompas completely steal this show. The songs
which seem so fatuous in the movie are actually relevant when
14 children (Trevor Ambrosini, Haylee Duey, Rebecca Forcier,
Faith Maciel, Selena Reveles, Kassie Rosell, Maya Schubert, Louis
Sterback, Elizabeth Tsarnas, Rebecca Thompson, Timothy Ward,
Marisa Wright, Selena Ybarra and Brittany Ybarra) sing of the
ghastly fates that consumed the greedy, selfish, spoiled and
satiated winners of the first four Golden Tickets in rhymed couplets.
While they dance and sing, the stage light sparkles off their
radioactive green hair and post-gothic factory attire.
Director Young deserves a great
deal of credit for this adaptation, as do the designers and assistants
who built the incredible set, developed the psychedelic light
shows and run a backstage full of 14 tiny Oompa Loompas with
entrances from both ends of the house. Particularly noteworthy
are: top notch set designer Daniel Lawrence, set painter Lisa
Samuels-Ybarra, trompe d'oile scene artists Bruce and Lois Keller,
exquisite costumers Denise Ryles and Rosemary Smith, light designer
Jesse Talbert, techs and crew Kelsey Wortman, Melanie Parker,
Kelly Hughes, Holly McLaughlin and accompanist Justin Ross.
Even though the Rep is the biggest
playhouse on the North Coast, don't assume they'll have a ticket
for you for this show at the last second. Opening night was sold
out, and from audience comments, the word-of-mouth on this show
is going to be huge. Buy your reserved seat ticket and then just
show up at 7:50, buy a Wonka bar and settle in for a lovely short
family musical that you'll be thinking about for several days
Ferndale Repertory Theatre's
charming holiday production, The World of Willie Wonka, continues
Thursdays through Sundays until Dec. 19. Call 786-LIVE for tickets
and more information.
Dell'Arte's 23rd annual holiday
show offers a Dell'Artian take on a classic children's story.
Three Pigs: A Comic Tail with a Twist with shows at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, Dec. 3, at Fortuna River Lodge, Dec. 10 at McKinleyville
High School, and Dec. 12 at the Adorni Center in Eureka. Donations
of nonperishable food items will be given to local food banks.
Tickets can be picked up at Wildberries Marketplace and Coast
Central Credit Union, who, along with Target Corporation, underwrite
the free performances.
Paid performances of Three
Pigs at the Carlo in Blue Lake open at 7:30 p.m. from Thursday,
Dec., 16 through Sunday, Dec. 19. Call Dell'Arte for reservations
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