Willy Wonka is Oompalicious

Willy Wonka

The magical, mysterious world of Willy Wonka
photo by Samir Almira

Lick’s spring musical, Willy Wonka, was a hilariously and wonderfully eccentric production filled with lovely music, colorful sets and beautiful costumes. Video projections, created by Claire Stacy ’14 and Tywen Kelly ’14, appeared on the backdrop to add a somewhat psychedelic “filter” to the entire production.

Willy Wonka, played by Elisa Boles ’14, opens the show delightfully decked out in candy-colored clothing and a massive brimmed hat as she sings a beautiful rendition of “Pure Imagination.” Standing on a rising platform, Wonka rises above the audience as fog covers the stage and surrounds the infamous gates to the Wonka factory.

Serving as both the narrator and the titular character, Wonka begins telling the audience the story of Charlie Bucket (Oliver York ’17). The Bucket family, hit by hard times, struggles to make ends meet and keep food on the table. Mr. Bucket (Max Ozer-Staton ’16) and Mrs. Bucket (Nicole Borders ’17), along with the eccentrically old and hard-of-hearing Grandpa George (Alexa Almira ’15) and Grandma Georgina (Ami Feng ’17), make up the members of the Bucket family.

News detailing Wonka’s golden ticket contest is mulled over by various members of the Bucket family, but it’s clear that Charlie and Mr. Bucket are deeply enthralled at the prospect—no matter how slim—of finding a golden ticket in a Wonka chocolate bar.

Around the world, news bulletins (signaled by a video projection detailing location accompanied by typical newsroom music) announce that a lucky child has just won one of the five golden tickets. Each ticket-winner’s name drops from the ceiling of the stage as they are revealed and interviewed by Phineous Trout (Loie Plautz ’15), a charismatic TV presenter who makes snide remarks about each ticket-winner and his or her parent upon discovering how unfavorable they are.

First comes Augustus Gloop (Nigel Berkeley ’17) from Germany, a food-infatuated boy dressed in lederhosen who gleefully sings, “I Eat More!” as he shovels down food into his chocolate-covered mouth. His mother, played by Gabby Sanchez-Corea ’15, feeds him pieces of chocolate by the hand. The Cook (Dwayne Yow) reappears countless times with new platters of food, much to the audience’s amusement.

Next is Veruca Salt (Maia Schwartz ’17), a screaming, spoiled brat from Brazil. Her pushover father, played by Coco Sachs ’17, constantly advertises for his nut company as he smokes a cigarette.

Violet Beauregarde (Isabel Povey ’16), from Georgia, drawls in a thick Southern accent as she smacks on her gum, dressed in a blueberry-colored (foreshadowing!) tracksuit. Mrs. Beauregarde (Ainsley Dankort ’14), who is dressed in a deep blue jumpsuit, is as much of a pushover as Mr. Salt as she allows her daughter to smack insult after insult during the interview.

Mike Teavee (Samuel Berston ’16), from Television City, California, is glued to his—no surprise—television, computer and iPhone. Ms. Teavee (Shelby Devolder ’17) struggles to control her arrogant son. He clearly is more infatuated with his electronics than winning the golden ticket, making it clear that the four who have received the ticket so far are not deserving.

Finally, last to receive the ticket is Charlie, who buys the candy bar from the Candy Man (Caitlin Yu ’15) with a silver dollar he finds on the ground. Act One closes with all the ticket winners and their parents standing outside the Wonka gates as they excitedly prepare to see the magic that happens in the Wonka factory.

The ticket winners photo by Samir Almira

The ticket winners
photo by Samir Almira

Act Two begins with the signing of a ridiculously long contract. The audience gets a first taste of Wonka’s wackiness.

The first room the group enters is the large Chocolate Smelting Room. The scene was created with a beautiful mural backdrop painted by the Drawing & Painting class. Pipes from the mural complemented the pipes used as decoration on the sides of the stage. The chocolate river, created out of a semi-sheer brown fabric, flowed across the orchestra pit as Oompa-Loompas shook it to create a dynamic current.

August Gloop, of course, can’t restrain himself from trying the chocolate in the river and proceeds to fall right in. He is the first of the children to be “ejected” from the tour and his name disappears from the placards hanging from the ceiling.

The next room is the Invention Room, where a new type of long-lasting, multi-course dinner flavored gum is being created by the Oompa-Loompas, who pass around beakers from the Chemistry classroom filled with bubbling, colorful liquid. Violet Beauregarde snatches the gum from Wonka’s hands and begins chewing, despite Wonka’s warnings. Violet begins unzipping her tracksuit and discovers that her body has begun ballooning out like a giant blueberry (to create the effect, Violet was dressed in a jumpsuit made of a billowing fabric that ballooned out as she moved across the stage). When she is escorted out by the Oompa-Loompas, Violet’s name also disappears from the placards.

The Oompa-Loompas photo by Samir Almira

The Oompa-Loompas
photo by Samir Almira

The tour continues on to a room that contains the Fizzy Lifting Drink. Again, Wonka warns the remaining children not to drink from it, but this time Charlie and Mr. Bucket succumb to the temptation when Wonka and the other children leave the room. Strapped onto harnesses, York and Ozer-Staton float up from the stage happily until they realize they will be floating right into a ceiling fan. They discover that burping is the only method in which to lower themselves, which they are able to do successfully.

Charlie and Mr. Bucket catch up with the group in the Nut Room, where squirrels throw giant nuts into a machine that tells them, in a booming, monotone voice, “Good Nut” or “Bad Nut.” Mr. Salt, being the owner of a nut operation himself, is immediately intrigued by the process, but Veruca becomes fascinated with the squirrels. She demands that her father buy her a squirrel. When Wonka refuses to sell, Veruca sings, “I Want it Now!” Her tirade is cut short when she falls into the machine, which proclaims, “Very Bad Nut.” Mr. Salt jumps in after Veruca. Before leaving the Nut Room, Wonka points to the placards and the audience watches as Veruca’s name is removed.

Mike Teavee and Charlie are the only two remaining children. When Mike discovers that the next room is used to teleport chocolate bars on TV, he can’t resist and forces his way onto the machine to teleport himself onto the TV. Wonka clearly doesn’t even care anymore and halfheartedly mumbles a warning. Mike literally turns into a living doll as his mother is instructed to take him to the Taffy Room to try to stretch him out.

Although Charlie is the only child left, Wonka angrily retreats to her office and tells Charlie and Mr. Bucket to see themselves out of the factory. When Mr. Bucket asks about the promised lifetime supply of chocolate, Wonka is clearly annoyed and upset. Charlie feels guilty knowing that he and his father had broken the rules when they tasted the Fizzy Lifting Drink, so he admits to Wonka that he doesn’t deserve the chocolate and turns to leave. Upon hearing his words, Wonka immediately perks up and tells Charlie he has successfully passed her test. As she leads the two onto a large glass elevator at the center of the stage, she explains how the tour was designed to test each child in order to find the next heir to the Wonka factory. As the glass elevator is lifted by the same rising platform from the opening scene, the backdrop projection becomes a beautiful blue sky. Wonka offers Charlie the true prize and he happily accepts as the Company sings the final song.

Perhaps the most hilarious event of the evening was the final scene of the musical—Mike Brooks, Molly French, Doug Hellikson, Erin Merk, MoPops, Christine Sebastian, Suzanne Shimek, Kelleigh Trowbridge, Justin Victa and Dwayne Yow all appeared in full face make-up with crazy hair as Oompa-Loompas to close the show.

The teachers as Oompa-Loompas photo by Samir Almira

The teachers and faculty as Oompa-Loompas
photo by Samir Almira


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