From creamy, caramelized candies, to numbingly nutty nougat, to ooey-gooey, giddying gum-- get your yet-to-be-tantalized taste buds and tender hearts warmed by a world of pure imagination at Centreville High School’s production of Roald Dahl’s “Willy Wonka.”
The charming musical by Leslie Bricusse and Timothy Allen McDonald recounts the story of Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” to the enchanting score by Bricusse and Anthony Newley. Willy Wonka’s days as a creative chocolate connoisseur are coming to a close. He slips five golden tickets into his global chocolate bars, and after putting the lucky winning children through terrifying temptation tests, Wonka hopes to find a protege to inherit his factory. The show shifts the blame of badly behaved children onto the problem’s root--bad parenting.
Alexander Cox’s performance as Wonka was marked by mesmerizing vocals. With a soft, tender tone, Cox’s lines dripped with enticing sweetness. Consistently nudging his shoulders knowingly, and paired with a reassured smile, Cox created an alluringly comforting character. Cox brought dimension to Wonka through apathetic maliciousness, where following a child’s death, Cox sported a wide grin and moved swiftly without concern. Most terrifying was when Cox cackled maniacally amidst terrified shrieks after a sudden extinction of lights.
Where Cox’s voice had an older quality to it, Madelyn Regan’s Charlie sang with animated excitement. In songs like “Think Positive!” Regan bounded across the stage, skipping and jumping with energy. Each line burst with enthusiasm, Regan’s tight and rapid vibrato punctuating the air with cartoonish charisma. Regan’s facial expressions were joyfully pronounced. When expressing Charlie’s desire to “eat a lifetime of chocolate,” Regan’s eyebrows pursed with anticipation, and almost squealed instead of talking.
Katie Wood’s performance as Veruca featured salsa-like sass. Wood portrayed Veruca as explosive and striking -- stomping, shrieking, and pouting at every second. Wood carried a haughty posture, nose lifted into the air with snobbery. With a blend of dance-like sways and jagged jumps, Wood retained Veruca’s flashy character in the song “I Want it Now!” striding with importance to center stage and singing with a whiny, high pitch.
Other notable performances include Gabriel Amiryar’s (Augustus) comical delivery. Most entertaining was the song “I Eat More.” Armiyar fell to the ground dramatically, hung off the side of the stage, and waited for someone to pick him back up.
The costume design by Laura Mineo and Emily Thomas used distinctive colors to identify the children: harsh navy blue for brash Violet, ditzy, girlish pink for daddy’s-little-girl Veruca, slimy green for unkempt Mike, flashy orange for striking Augustus, and faded blue for poor, but hopeful Charlie. The parents’ costumes masterfully reflected their children. Mr. Salt’s silky rose tie linked him to daughter Veruca, while Mrs. Beauregarde’s sapphire-print business gown aligned her to daughter Violet. Choosing to tie only one element to their children allowed the parents to retain individual personalities while insinuating that the children were an exaggeration of their parents’ characteristics.
Keshmin Curtusan and Jayla Eddy’s sound design seamlessly amplified the cast’s voices. In large ensemble numbers, the duo adjusted the myriad of microphones to balanced perfection, ensuring the ensemble rang with unified clarity. During vocal solos, they deftly dropped the ensemble voices to a supporting hum. This cushioned the soloist with a melodic backdrop and allowed their moment to glisten. Segments of the “Oompa Loompa” songs started with the squeaky Oompa Loompa Ensemble singing in mystifying excitement, then fell to a gentle lull as a child began deliberating their tragedy with fervor.
Nostalgic, heartwarming, and full of childlike wonder, Centerville High School’s production makes anyone feel like they won a golden ticket.
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