The Bullard High School Theater Department will soon host children of all ages, as the company prepares to host its portrayal of “Willy Wonka: The Musical” this weekend.
Performances for the musical are slated for 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Dec. 1-2, as well as 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 3, with all performances inside the BHS Audry B. Owens Auditorium.
“We are very excited about bringing ‘Willy Wonka: The Musical’ to life on the stage this year,” said Stacy Hightower, BHS theater director. “We picked this musical out last year because we believe we have the cast to do a big and fun production, and wanted to reward our senior and junior actors for all of their hard work they have put into our program.”
In the title role of “Willy Wonka: The Musical” will be Tyler Baker, portraying the owner of Wonka Candies himself. Alongside Baker will be Maddie Grace Beam, stepping into the role of Charlie Bucket.
“Tyler and Maddie Grace are both great actors and great servant leaders,” said Hightower. “We’re willing to put the company first before themselves and they’re every dedicated to get the tasks that need to be completed done in order for us to have a successful performance. They take direction very well; either Mrs. McKinney or I can tell them something, and they’re able to take those suggestions and make their characters better.”
Actors portraying members of Charlie Bucket’s family include Bailey Baker, as Grandma Georgina; Berkleigh Billner, as Grandma Josephine; Zach VanWinkle, as Grandpa George; Will Brown, as Grandpa Joe, Dylan Price, as Mr. Bucket; and Kaitie Woodard, as Mrs. Bucket.
Other members of the “Willy Wonka: The Musical” production include Brooke Henry, as Augustus Gloop; John Engle, as camera man; Joshua Luper, as Candy Man’ Macy Bunger, as Chocolate Mermaid; Patrick Granberry, as James; Rebekah Brasher, as Matilda; Collin Skelton, as Mike Teavee, Erin Berry, as Mrs. Beauregarde; Emily Dean, as Mrs. Gloop; Levi Erhman, as Mr. Salt; Raelee Walker, as Mrs. Teavee; Ashlyn Meador, as Phineous Trout; Anja Terho-Streck, as Veruca Salt; and Emmalie Ellis, as Violet Beauregarde.
The production of “Willy Wonka: The Muscial” also contains a number of group performances, including a chorus of kids, featuring Brasher, Mary Erhman, Jaedin Jennings, Elijah Johnson, Billner, Keely Linebaugh, Parker Jacobs, Chase Jacobs, VanWinkle, Granberry, and Price; chorus of cooks, including Bailey Baker, Brasher, Price, and VanWinkle; and Ooopa-loompa chorus, featuring Brasher, Bunger, Mary Erhman, Jennings, and Price.
Crew members for the production include Bailey Baker, as stage manager; Valerie Vierkant, as lighting technician; Serin Showers, as sound technician; and Emily Baker, as backstage crew head.
With the musical based off a motion picture, McKinney said there will undoubtedly be differences between the two productions that are noticeable to the audience.
“There’s always a difference in live theater than from the film adaptation,” said McKinney. “Most of the time, it’s a good difference. There’s going to be differences in the songs, as well as how some things are portrayed, and even some new characters.”
According to Hightower, the department has the right ensemble to pull off successful performances of “Willy Wonka: The Musical,” citing the chemistry and hard work ethic of the cast and crew members.
“I feel that we’re going to be able to pull off this musical because we have a strong cast for the type of literature and the musicality of this production,” said Hightower. “They also have a great chemistry and are able to work well off of each other. They’ve been working hard and putting in the extra time and effort, practicing after school, building the sets, and getting everything ready to have a great production.”
In addition to the BHS theater cast, the actors will be joined on stage by some of the departments’ youngest fans, as young children who have participated in the theater’s Kids Camp events will perform as Oompa-loompas during the production of “Willy Wonka: The Musical.”
“We’ve had a total of 72 kids participate in our Kids Camp this year,” said Hightower. “All of the feedback we’ve received has been very positive; they’ve enjoyed being able to work with the cast and getting ready for the performance. They’re divided by age groups, so they’ll have their own songs during the show. With the large amount of attendance at the Kids Camp, I think that’s a testament to how great our cast members are and how much interest in our program is growing.”
McKinney said the performance of “Willy Wonka: The Musical” epitomizes the idea of a musical production that can be enjoyed by the whole family, regardless of age.
“We want parents to bring their children to our performances,” said McKinney. “It’s going to be fun in the way that if you have a small child and they get excited and start talking, it’s okay for them to do that.
For the first night of the performance on Friday, Dec. 1, the BHS Theater Department is offering a “Kid’s Night” at a cost of $20, which included VIP seating, a Wonka treat, backstage pass, photos and autographs, and a posed Wonka photo.
The BHS Theater Department will also host a charity night during the Sunday, Dec. 3 performance. Half of the monetary proceeds received by the department during the day’s performance will be donated to the family of four-year-old Jase Curtis, who was diagnosed with leukemia during the summer. The department will also accept donations on the family’s behalf.
General admission tickets for “Willy Wonka: The Musical” will be available for $5 at the door the night of the productions.
For more information about the BHS Theater Department’s production of “Willy Wonka: The Musical,” contact McKinney at firstname.lastname@example.org or Hightower at email@example.com.