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Courtesy of SCERA Shell

Keeping up with its reputation, the SCERA Shell Outdoor Theatre’s production of the musical Willy Wonka promises to be extravagant, imaginative and family-friendly.   The musical Willy Wonka is based on Roald Dahl’s widely-loved classic book Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, which has been made in to two movies. The story follows young protagonist Charlie Bucket and four other children after they find golden tickets in candy bars and are invited to tour Willy Wonka’s famous and secretive candy factory. Dahl’s lesson-teaching devices are unique and unexpected, and they translate to the live stage surprisingly well.  “I love fantasy shows, and this is a wonderfully weird fantasy,” said director Mindy B. Young. “This play has been so fun because it’s kind of like doing Shakespeare. You hear all these familiar sayings, and you never knew where they came from. ‘Willy Wonka’ is full of them.”   Young is also choreographer and costume designer for the production.  The cast is made up of 90 people, 55 of which are playing oompa loompas. Sizing was important while casting; Phillip Erickson, who is 6’4”, will play Willy Wonka. All of the adults will wear stacked heels. The children are mostly played by adults, while the oompa loompas and squirrels are played by young children. A.J. Nielsen, who plays Charlie Bucket, is in his 20’s while Charlie has not yet reached puberty.  The set is also dramatically sized – the gates to the factory stand 14 feet tall. Young and set designer Nat Reed have worked to bring the excitement of the film’s special effects to the stage.   “We don’t want to give away all the behind-the-scenes secrets,” said Young. “You’ll just have to come and see.”