Review: “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” is Scrumptious

by Ashley Johnson

From left: Sarah Mitchell (Violet Bearegarde), Samuel Wick (Willy Wonka) and Austin Weyand (Charlie Bucket). Photo via Greg Eliason

From left: Sarah Mitchell (Violet Bearegarde), Samuel Wick (Willy Wonka) and Austin Weyand (Charlie Bucket). Photo via Greg Eliason.

Ashland, Ore. –  The stage lit up with passionate and vibrant talent, colorful Oompa Loompas, dancing and singing, and pure heart and soul Friday night at the sold out opening performance of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  Fun and interactive, the theatrical version of this favorite family story left me with a skip in my step and a smile from ear to ear.

The performance began playful and friendly, engaging the audience and establishing a sense of comfort and camaraderie.  Clapping and singing to lively beats was just the beginning.  As the characters started to come alive, a sense of delightful anticipation ensued.  We are first introduced to the four ticket holders: chocolate-obsessed Augustus Gloop (Lucas Lee Coldwell), gum-chewing and sassy Violet (Sarah Mitchell), obnoxious and entitled Veruca Salt (Shanti Ryle), and lively Mike Teevee (Mike Hays).  We then meet Charlie Bucket (Austin Weyand), the wholesome sweet boy who reveals to his less fortunate, struggling family that he has found the final golden ticket!  Laughter fills the theater as Augustus is constantly eating and grunting, and Violet retorts with quick wit in her saucy New Jersey style accent.

Demanding by nature, Veruca Salt throws ridiculous temper tantrums and Mike Teevee gives off the attitude of a character in Mortal Kombat.  Willy Wonka, terrifically played by Samuel Wick, takes us on a magical journey through his chocolate factory.  Unbeknownst to the children, he is looking for an heir to take over its operation.  Delightfully full of spontaneity, humor, and audience participation, the entire production was terrific.  Brightly colored and charismatic Oompa Loompas did several dances to Caribbean rhythms and made it difficult not to dance in my seat!  By the final scene I was in fact out of my seat and dancing with an Oompa Loompa myself.

Assistant Director Tashina Stillmaker was pleased with a full house on opening night and the opportunity for actors to interact with the children.

“It was a wonderful performance. I’ve seen it countless times as the Assistant Director, and it is always wonderful, never gets old, and every performance there are more and more discoveries that keep the show magical for all audiences”.

It was magical indeed.  Talented acting, wonderful choreography, and great costumes came together to make this play complete. Don’t just take my word for it.  This is a must see show! Performances run through March 9th at Center Square Theatre on campus at SOU.  Call the box office at 541-552-6346 for tickets or more information.

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