"Wonka" delivers a sweet treat for audience
Posted on 06/05/2019
Wonka  with Augustus Gloop, who is stuck in the chocolate machine, and Mrs. Gloop


Just before spring break, Reagan Middle School delighted audiences with “Ronald Dahl’s Willy Wonka, Jr.”

When candy manufacturer Willy Wonka (Griffin Cox) stages a contest by hiding golden tickets in five of his scrumptious candy bars, offering a free tour of the Wonka Factory to the ticket holders, families everywhere scramble to open as many candy bars as they can get their hands on. Unfortunately for Wonka, four of the five winning children are insufferable brats, but the fifth is a likeable young lad named Charlie Bucket (Maegan Feldman), who takes the tour in the company of his equally good-natured Grandpa Jo (Francesca Zola). While on the tour, the children learn about Wonka’s experiment candy and about his workers, the Oompa Loompas. However, the kids soon come to realize that candy making isn’t all fun and games; they must learn to follow Mr. Wonka's rules in the factory — or suffer the consequences. 

The entertaining, yet bratty, children include Veruca Salt (Isabella McDonald), Violet Beauregarde (Camille Johnson), Mike Teavee (Cole Clapper), and Augustus Gloop (Chase Murphy). Each of these children, though accompanied by their parents, meets a different hilarious fate inside of the factory.

“Ronald Dahl’s Willy Wonka, Jr.” is full of hilarious moments, sprinkled with memorable lessons about family, pride, and doing the right thing. Director and choreographer, Reagan Theatre Arts Teacher Earlena Bellino, was joined by fellow Theatre Teacher Andrew Wynn, and Band Director Vincent Prinzivalli to help the students create the exciting production.

“Wonka’s” Standout

The stand out of this production was the audience participation, and “buy in.” The intimate production space allowed for the audience to feel as if they were a part of Wonka’s factory. The Oompa Loompas entered their first scene through the audience, bringing the audience into the factory for the remainder of the show. Each seat contained a golden ticket, allowing the audience members to feel they had rightful passage into the factory. During intermission the concession stand was filled with delightful sweets to keep the theme front of mind.

Audience participation was particularly important in the bubble room scene, in which the audience is instructed to look under their seat for a bubble bottle. For one evening’s performance, the lucky audience member to receive the bubbles, and thus participate in the scene, was Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steve Walts.

How did Reagan choose “Wonka”?

“It has always been a tradition to allow the theatre classes and the theatre club to vote on the spring production,” explained Bellino. The students were given three options, and for the 2019 season, they chose “Ronald Dahl’s Willy Wonka, Jr.”