DHS drama club to perform ‘Wonka, Jr.’

Published 7:29 pm Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Demopolis High School drama club will perform “Wonka, Jr.” at the DHS auditorium this Thursday through Sunday. Performances will be held at 7 p.m. on Thursday through Saturday, with a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday. Admission is $5 for those 5 and older and $3 for children under 5.

The production is based on the popular 1971 movie “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” starring Gene Wilder, and will feature a lot of the songs made famous by that movie.

“They’ve changed some things to make it appropriate and easier for a younger group to do,” said production director and DHS drama club sponsor Jodi White. “The first part of the story takes place with Charlie Bucket and the big contest to see who can get the golden ticket.”

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John Brown of York serves as the production’s musical director. Brown is an operatic tenor originally from York who studied with Rachel Mathes and veteran Andrew Gainey at the Metropolitan Opera. He began his musical studies at the Alabama School of Fine Arts in Birmingham.

“He has several choirs that he directs in Livingston,” White said. “We are really lucky to have somebody who is a true profession like him coming to work with us, and we wouldn’t be able to do that without the help of the grant from the Alabama Black Belt Arts Initiative.”

White said the production of “Wonka Jr.” follows the drama club’s plan to put on at least one family-oriented performance each year.

“I’m a big believer in educational outreach,” she said. “We do a lot of matinees for the area schools. If we could fit them all in here, we could get every single child to come, but we can only fit one or two classes.”

With several drama club members trying out for parts, several of the characters were double-cast, including Willy Wonka himself, played by BaBa Smith and Keyan Walker.

Anyone who has seen the 1971 movie — or even the 2005 version, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” — will recognize the cast at once and enjoy watching them get themselves into all kinds of sticky messes.

Audience members may even find themselves singing along with some of the songs performed by the cast.

The set is made up of recycled materials donated by area businesses and industries as well as from the students themselves. The production was also made possible by Tucker Cabinetry, Advantage Communi-cations and Y&D Medical Supply.

For fans of the 1971 movie or anyone who enjoys a good family performance, “Wonka, Jr.” will make for a time that will satisfy any sweet tooth.