Few people ever get the chance to enter Willy Wonka’s mysterious chocolate factory but this week the SMUS Middle School will send all of its students into this deliciously fun world.
After months of hard work, the Middle School musical, Willy Wonka, debuts Thursday, March 2 at the McPherson Playhouse. Get your fill of chocolate and nostalgia, as the students bring to life Roald Dahl’s popular story, twice adapted for the big screen.
The SMUSpaper sat down with the five students playing the five characters who each find a golden ticket – Charlie Bucket (Talia P.), Mike Teevee (David W.), Veruca Salt (Tori F.), Violet Beauregard (Ellie M.) and Augustus Gloop (Callum C.).
Who do you play and why did you audition for this character?
Talia – I play Charlie. I just thought, ‘Why not go for the lead?’ I would’ve been really happy still if I wasn’t Charlie, because I would’ve been a candy store kid or Oompa Loompa – either way I would be on stage. And I know I have two chances to do it, because I’m in Grade 6 and I’ll get to do another musical in Grade 8.
David – I like that Mike kind of has the same personality as me. In the musical he’s a little more modern – instead of being like a cowboy in the movie, he plays video games. And he’s really energetic and just a fun character to play.
Tori – I’m not used to playing the role of a spoiled brat as much as Veruca is, so it’s just fun to be playing a role that is so big. I like playing someone totally different from who I am. I can be someone on stage who I’m not normally and be crazy and weird.
Ellie – It’s so fun to be bad like Violet because she’s not really like me and I get to change personalities to someone who, if I acted the way she did at school – being snotty and chewing gum – people wouldn’t like me. But I can do all these things on stage and there’s no judgement because you’re doing it because your character has to do it, not because that’s who I am. It means a lot to play a part that made me laugh because now I get to make other people laugh.
Callum – In Grade 6 when we did The Wizard of Oz I really enjoyed being on stage, having a speaking role. So I wanted a part that was big in Willy Wonka too. At first I didn’t really want to be Augustus because of what happens to him in the show but it’s really fun getting to play someone like him!
Why did you want to be in the musical?
Talia – In Grade 5 I had a small part – one line – in the opera, Die Fledermaus. But I liked being on stage so I decided this year I would try out for a big role. I also did dance for a few years, so I’ve been able to do some dancing as Charlie on stage! I enjoy being up there on stage and getting to have everybody watching. And it’s a lot of fun to be part of a big group effort like a musical.
Tori – I’ve been doing musical theatre since I was 6 – it’s always been my hobby. I love to perform on stage in different musicals. I’ve performed with Victoria Operatic Society, Pacific Opera Victory and Four Seasons. And I was in the Grade 5 opera, and in Wizard of Oz I was a choir singer in the orchestra pit, so I really like being back on stage.
Ellie – I’ve always loved acting and singing, and I’ve always loved being on stage dancing or doing anything, really. I love being able to act and have a lot of fun on the stage.
What’s the experience like being in a SMUS musical where every Middle School student is involved?
David – It’s really fun because whenever you’re not rehearsing, you get to hang out with all your friends and have fun. And everyone at the Middle School has a part to play, so everyone understands what you’re going through. If you are struggling in memorizing your lines, there’s always a friend around who also needs to memorize stuff.
Tori – You always have support and help from your classmates because you’re all working to get to a single point of performing on stage in the McPherson.
Callum – And because all the Grade 6s, 7s and 8s are doing it, it’s great meeting new people; a lot of people I didn’t know before this. But all the time we’ve spent together, I now have lots of friends in all of the grades.
Ellie – The musical would not be possible without all of the students taking part and playing all the roles. And if you don’t want to be on stage, you still have a chance to participate and and put in the effort and time to be backstage or painting sets. And it’s amazing that all the teachers take time to make sure everyone is putting their best foot forward. I love seeing the people who are on stage for just a short amount of time who are so excited and ready to make sure everything goes perfect so it helps the show go smoothly.
Talia – Everyone has a chance to contribute to the play or be in the play however they want, but they all get to show what they accomplished at the end. Without all the Oompa Loompas, the candy store kids, the people in the crowds, the dancers, the people backstage, it wouldn’t be Willy Wonka. We all come together and it makes it spectacular.
Why should people come see Willy Wonka?
Ellie – Because we have all been working to the bone for so many months and you should see all the work that everyone’s put in. The whole school is talking about it. We have such talented people doing it – we will make you laugh and smile. You will get so attached to the characters!
Tori – People should come because it’s such an energetic and fun show. The sets and costumes, it’s all so bright and amazingly put together!
Talia – A lot of people have watched the movies or read the book but haven’t seen the musical. It’s different from the other Willy Wonkas, so you’ll be really entertained! People should just come because everybody’s put in so much effort and it’s taken us quite a while to get us ready to perform on stage!
David – It’s going to be super entertaining! It’s all made by the school – the sets, a lot of the costumes and props. And it’s really nice to see all the kids and teachers working together to put on a big show like this.
Willy Wonka runs nightly at 7 p.m. from March 2-4. Tickets and more information are available on the McPherson Playhouse website.