Wonka adaptation is one sweet show

More than a musical, its sets, cast are all about fun

Family

Events Activities

April 14, 2005|By Ann McArthur | Ann McArthur,SUN STAFF

Who knew buying a chocolate bar could be a life-changing event? Or that you could open the shiny wrapper and inhale the sweet smell of cocoa and think it could change your fate instead of your pants size?

On Saturday, you can experience Charlie Bucket's life-altering adventure at the Baltimore Children's Theatre production of the musical adaptation of Roald Dahl's book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

The production tells the story of Charlie Bucket and four other lucky chocolate eaters who purchase candy bars that hold winning tickets that will get them through the gates of Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. Charlie's auspicious tour through the famous factory, led by the mysterious Mr. Wonka, brings out the winners' fatal flaws via sweet temptations.

Families shouldn't expect to see a typical staged fairy tale, said Mark Andrew Beachy, the producer and choreographer of the show and the founder of the Baltimore Children's Theatre.

"This show is something a little bit different," he said. "It's a magical, musical and very sweet show that has surprising twists."

Among the surprises are the dancing candy kisses that shimmy their way into the audience and give out candy as part of one of the new musical arrangements in the show.

Each member of the family should identify with the music and dancing in the show, said Beachy.

"The kids in the show do a dance from each decade," he said, "including the `candyman' dance, which has the kids jumping up and down like they're doing a Jane Fonda workout."

Dance moves such as the cha-cha, the swim and a few disco maneuvers are also a part of the choreography. And the tunes range from rock to a rap number performed by the Oompa Loompas - the poem-chanting factory workers who are more fun than scary dressed in white knickers, fluorescent green wigs and sunglasses.

The set and effects reflect the offbeat humor and mysteriousness of the purple top hat-wearing Willy Wonka. Some of the effects are done using a disco ball, lights, dolls, large plastic tubes and a vacuum cleaner.

"We don't try to make it look real," said Beachy. "But we have a great sense of humor and want to have fun with the sets."

Sidney A. Curl, the show's director, agrees that he likes it when the audience has to use its imagination.

"I love getting audiences to think about the story and forget about everything around them," he said.

The one-hour show includes a pre-show of musical chairs and an after-show in which the audience can take pictures with Willy Wonka and the other characters.

"The theater experience starts when you come through the doors," said Beachy. "And families will leave feeling educated and entertained."

"Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" opens Saturday and runs every Saturday through May 21 at 1 p.m., with an additional 3:30 p.m. performance on April 30, along with Sunday, May 15 and 22 at 2 p.m. at 410 Jasper St. Tickets are $10. Call 443-864-1470 or visit www.baltimorethea tre.org.

For more family events, see Page 37.

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