The Bullard High School theater program recently transported kids of all ages through one of the most recognizable works in literature, as the company wrapped up its performances of its 2017 musical event, “Willy Wonka: The Musical,” based on the popular book, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” by British author Roald Dahl.
“I truly believe that the kids loved the performance because we gave it everything we had,” said BHS senior and theater student Maddie Grace Beam. “Plus, who wouldn’t love a world that is surrounded by candy?”
Performances of the BHS theater’s 2017 musical were held Friday through Sunday, Dec. 1-3, inside the BHS Audry B. Owens Auditorium.
“I have never been more proud of a show than I was this year,” said Stacy Hightower, BHS theater director. “These kids raised money for others and that makes my heart so incredibly happy. They are using their talents to benefit others.”
Earlier this year, the BHS theater program began preparing for “Willy Wonka: The Musical” by hosting the annual BHS Theater Kids Camp, an effort to teach young children the joys of acting and the theater, while also involving the young thespians in the musical production, filling the roles of oompa-loompas.
According to the BHS theater directors, participation in the 2017 Kids Camps was easily doubled, and even nearly tripled, than the event saw in recent years.
“We had a total of 72 kids participate in our Kids Camp this year,” said Hightower. “All of the feedback we’ve received has been very positive; they’ve enjoyed being able to work with the cast and getting ready for the performances. They were divided by age groups, so they had their own songs during the show. With the large amount of attendance at the Kids Camp, I think that’s a testament to how great our cast members are and how much interest in our program is growing.”
In the title role of “Willy Wonka: The Musical” was Tyler Baker, portraying the owner of Wonka Candies himself. Alongside Baker was Maddie Grace Beam, stepping into the role of Charlie Bucket.
Actors portraying members of Charlie Bucket’s family included Bailey Baker, as Grandma Georgina; Berkleigh Billner, as Grandma Josephine; Zach VanWinkle, as Grandpa George; Will Brown, as Grandpa Joe, Dylan Price, as Mr. Bucket; and Kaitie Woodard, as Mrs. Bucket.
Other members of the “Willy Wonka: The Musical” production included Brooke Henry, as Augustus Gloop; John Engle, as camera man; Joshua Luper, as Candy Man’ Macy Bunger, as Chocolate Mermaid; Patrick Granberry, as James; Rebekah Brasher, as Matilda; Collin Skelton, as Mike Teavee, Erin Berry, as Mrs. Beauregarde; Emily Dean, as Mrs. Gloop; Levi Erhman, as Mr. Salt; Raelee Walker, as Mrs. Teavee; Ashlyn Meador, as Phineous Trout; Anja Terho-Streck, as Veruca Salt; and Emmalie Ellis, as Violet Beauregarde.
The production of “Willy Wonka: The Muscial” also contained a number of group performances, including a chorus of kids, featuring Brasher, Mary Erhman, Jaedin Jennings, Elijah Johnson, Billner, Keely Linebaugh, Parker Jacobs, Chase Jacobs, VanWinkle, Granberry, and Price; chorus of cooks, including Bailey Baker, Brasher, Price, and VanWinkle; and Ooopa-loompa chorus, featuring Brasher, Bunger, Mary Erhman, Jennings, and Price.
Crew members for the production included Bailey Baker, as stage manager; Valerie Vierkant, as lighting technician; Serin Showers, as sound technician; and Emily Baker, as backstage crew head.
The cast of “Willy Wonka: The Musical” consisted of seven seniors performing in their final BHS theater musical production, including Baker, Baker, Beam, Brown, Cross, Price, and Ehrman.
After the last performance, the seniors took their final bow and finished their last musical.
“I have been a part of theatre ever since middle school and it is my one passion that I genuinely love and I never lose sight of it,” Baker said. “Performing my last musical was extremely bittersweet for me and all of the other seniors and we couldn’t be more excited for what is to come.”
Even though the musical was mainly directed by the theater teachers, many of the department’s students took a leading role by creating the choreography.
“I was the choreographer for Willy Wonka and it was definitely easy to choreograph,” said Skelton. “The songs are so fun and easy to find dance moves to, especially when you love choreography.”
To begin the week of performances, the BHS theater company added a special performance on Thurdsay, Nov. 30 for students attending both Bullard Primary School and Bullard Middle School, allowing the company to gauge its production amongst a younger audience.
For the first night of the performance on Friday, Dec. 1, the BHS Theater Department offered attendees a treat by having a “Kid’s Night” option at a cost of $20, which included VIP seating, a Wonka treat, backstage pass, photos and autographs, and a posed Wonka photo.
The department also hosted a charity night during the Sunday, Dec. 3 performance, with half of the monetary proceeds received by the department during the day’s performance donated to the family of four-year-old Jase Curtis, who was diagnosed with leukemia during the summer. The department will also accept donations on the family’s behalf.
According to the directors, the BHS theater 2017 musical performance of “Willy Wonka: The Musical,” raised over $1,300 for the department and its charitable contribution.