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Victory Park’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory simply Wonka-ful

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King David Primary School Victory Park (KDVP) transported audiences to a world of pure imagination in its production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory from 4 to 7 September.

The vibrant musical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s children’s novel of the same name tells the rags-to-riches story of Charlie Bucket through his once-in-a-lifetime encounter with famous chocolatier Willy Wonka.

The show opened with the iconic song, The Candyman, inviting the audience into a world where anything is possible. Willy Wonka was played by music teacher and director Andrew Edgar.

Charlie, the meek, underprivileged protagonist, was played by Jonathan Wadsworth with a sweet, naive sincerity that lent itself perfectly to the character. The audience was introduced to the Bucket family, living in their tiny home, built upon a small moving set. This included the iconic bed, where all four grandparents lay – played by Judah Katz, Sammy Blend, Asher Smeatsky, and Hayley Levine.

The four other golden ticket winners, who, to quote another Roald Dahl musical, Matilda, can only be described as “revolting children”, each delivered their own character songs. We travelled around the world to Bavaria, the home of Augustus Gloop (Rael Fine); Russia, the home of Veruca Salt (Ariella Hurwitz); California, home of Violet Beauregarde (Emily Epstein); and Idaho, home to Mike Teavee (Jake Wolman). The four young actors, as well as the actors playing Mrs Gloop (Ava Johnston-Kowen), Mr Salt (Ricky Kur), Mr Beauregarde (Phoenix Bernstein), and Mrs Teavee (Emma Drue) did an incredible job of their grotesque caricatures, from Augustus’ gluttony to Veruca’s spoiled attitude, to Violet’s brashness, to Mike’s aloofness.

Each winner was introduced by over-the-top TV presenters Jerry (Ava Rozen) and Cherry Sundae (Taylor Reichman-Israelsohn). And each character song featured an ensemble, from cheerleaders to a marching band. These songs also touched on deeper social issues, such as What could possibly go wrong?, which critiqued American society.

These humorous sketches were juxtaposed with Charlie’s family situation, particularly through the melancholic song that followed them, If your father were here. However, the heart-warming moment when Charlie finds the golden ticket managed to lighten the mood.

In the second act, the four other golden ticket winners each faced the end of their trip to the factory. A cloth was used to create the chocolate river that Augustus falls into, an elaborate sequence by the Oompa Loompas created a puff of smoke out of which came the piece of bubblegum that turned Violet violet – with a clever sleight of hand used to put blue paint on her face – a group of squirrels proclaimed Veruca to be a “bad nut”, which ended up landing her upside down in a trashcan, and, an audience favourite, the “shrinking” of Mike Teavee as a younger child dressed up in the same outfit was placed on the other side of the TVs.

Narrators Gabi Seymour, Cassie Nagle, and Sophia Stecker doubled as Willy Wonka’s assistants, along with the Oompa Loompas, who wore colourful, sparkly wigs. The ensemble was made up of various groups, from the townspeople to the Oompa Loompas, to the squirrels in Mr Wonka’s factory. Large dance numbers made the hall come alive, choreographed by Siphe Mashigo, Olga de Villiers, and Talia Kodesh.

Charlie, as the last “surviving” member of the group, went into the glass elevator, made from a moving trolley wrapped in plastic, with Willy Wonka, and was introduced to the wonderland that he was now the rightful owner of.

The sets, created by KDVP parents, were impressive. The first backdrop featured a city skyline at night. It folded to create the gates of Wonka’s factory, with space for the actors to walk through the gates. The other side of the backdrop featured a colourful, dreamlike swirl, reminiscent of candy, which served as the backdrop for the chocolate factory. Scaffolding on either side of the stage made space for the large cast and immersed the audience into the show. The sets were brought to life by colourful props and fairy lights.

KDVP’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was a candy-filled dream that united audiences of all ages in wonder and imagination.

  • Hanna Resnick is an intern at the SA Jewish Report.

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