GOLD BEACH – Ellensburg Theater Company (ETC) brought one of the best sets and a series of special effects ever seen on the Rogue Playhouse stage for its performance of “Willy Wonka.”
Layers of curtains created a three-dimensional effect to an otherwise flat backdrop. Panels on wheels helped create the 20 scenes – 12 in the first act – that brought to life the interior and exterior of the Bucket family home and the many rooms inside the chocolate factory.
Many special effects were used in creating the chocolate factory, which included the chocolate river, riding a boat on the river, the inventing room, a choco-vision room where a boy is shown on a television screen and removed by Wonka and finally, the Wonkavator, a flying elevator.
“Willy Wonka” is the musical version of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” and a similar version of the same story, “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” It is the tale of Charlie Bucket who is a recipient of a golden ticket, which gives him the right to tour the chocolate factory that once employed his grandfather, but has long since been closed down. Although no one is ever seen entering or leaving the factory, the chocolate confection is still somehow produced.
In the ETC production, Charlie is played by Alex Adams, his grandfather played by Daniel Dresser and Wonka by Michael Hall. The other winners of the golden tickets, five of which were wrapped among 50 million candy bars, are August Gloop (Christine Mather), Veruca Salt (Wynslow Mayer), Violet Beauregarde (Abby McKay) and Mike Teavee (Dylan Edwards). During the tour of the factory, each one fails a test, leaving only Charlie to claim the prize.
The production was impressive during the first act. However, during the family- and press-night performance the day before opening night, things did not go well during the second act.
Fortunately, according to Sue Baczik, co-producer, opening night went much better and Saturday the actors performed for a nearly full house and everything went as planned.
“This production brought us a new challenge of not having a full cast together at the same time until (the final) week due to so many vacations happening during rehearsals! The directors and support crew were turning gray over this one,” Baczik said. “Amazingly, it came together just in the nick of time.”
In addition to creating clever sets, directors Sarah Davis and Anne Tlaker, along with producers Baczik, Valerie MacGillivary and Barb Repp, had to work with a cast of 35, plus additional children who portray the Oompa Loompas, tiny gnomes who run the factory.
There are an equal number of behind-the-scenes workers designing, building sets, creating costumes, doing makeup, choreographing the dances and directing the many familiar songs.
“This has brought us a cadre of new, young, eager performers, and some welcome surprise new adult actors,” Baczik said. ”In a dwindling population, it appears theater has hope of continuing to grow.”
Five performances remain for this production that runs about two hours. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, Aug. 17, 18, 24 and 25, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 19. The Rogue Playhouse is at 94196 Moore St., one block west of the Curry County Courthouse.
Tickets are $12 for general admission, $8 for children 5-12, and free for children younger than 5. For reservations and information, call 541-247-4ETC (4382).