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Chocolate Dreams Come to Life in "Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka"

Wednesday, July 13, 2016 2:50:00 PM

Roald Dahl's timeless story of the world-famous candy man and his quest to find an heir comes to chocolate-covered life as Weathervane Playhouse presents Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka — live on stage from July 29 to Aug. 14, 2016.

This beloved story has captivated imaginations since the novel was published in 1964 and the beloved movie musical starring Gene Wilder was released in 1971. Weathervane Playhouse's production of Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka features all of the movie's memorable songs by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse (and also includes several new songs by Bricusse).

“We have tried to depict the story through the eyes of a child. I want to bring to life a child’s imagination, just like the first time I heard the story read to me,” says Director Sarah Elaine Bailey. “Roald Dahl was born on Sept. 13, 1916 — making this year his 100th birthday. We are thrilled to celebrate by learning about his life and works throughout this rehearsal process. Our young actors have been researching and preparing for months to bring this wonderful story to life.”

At Weathervane Playhouse, performers ages 7 to 17 create dreams of more candy than you could ever eat and becoming the owner of a candy factory. The score includes iconic songs “Candy Man,” "Pure Imagination” and, of course, the many "Oompa Loompa" songs!

Charlie Gruhler, 16, a junior at Akron’s Firestone High School, performs the leading role of Willy Wonka and leads a group of five golden ticket winners through the Wonka Chocolate Factory.

"Having seen the movie and read the book, I was excited to portray this character," says Gruhler. "Willy Wonka is a delightfully charming and fun character, but also downright crazy. He ignores personal space, has a maniacal laugh at times and other very strange physical movements."

Stanley Niekamp, 11, a fifth-grader at Miller South School for the Visual and Performing Arts, plays Charlie Bucket. He is accompanied on his journey through the chocolate factory by Paul Cinko (Grandpa Joe), Henry Gruhler (Augustus Gloop), Kali Chapas (Mrs. Gloop), Giovanna Abucejo (Veruca Salt), Alden Munnerlyn (Mr. Salt), Lukas Cinko (Mike Teavee), Sierra Sneed (Ms. Teavee), Jill Klika (Violet Beauregarde) and Alexis Robles (Mrs. Beauregarde).  

Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka runs from July 29 to August 14. Performances are Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 12:30 p.m.; Fridays at 7:30 p.m.; and Saturdays and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $18 for adults and $14 for those ages 17 and younger. CLICK HERE to buy tickets online or calling the Weathervane Playhouse Box office at 330-836-2626.

For media representatives seeking interviews, cast photos, or more information, contact Weathervane Playhouse Managing Director Lisa Mansfield at 330-836-2626 (ext. 20) or CLICK HERE to e-mail her.

Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka is part of Weathervane’s 2016-2017 Emerging Artist Series, a unique initiative of performances. It provides a way for young and budding performers to enter into the world of theatre and discover their place in it as an artist. The age range for the performers in the Emerging Artist Series varies; some actors often are as young as 7 and some are well into adulthood. The other two Emerging Artist Series productions in Weathervane's current season are Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (returning to the Weathervane stage for its 16th production after a one-year absence) from Nov. 22 to Dec. 18, 2016, and To Kill a Mockingbird, on stage from Feb. 23 to March 12, 2017.

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