Willy Wonka Jr. opens tonight at Arkansas Rep

Image may contain: textA local cast of 39 young actors will present Willy Wonka Jr. on the MainStage at Arkansas Repertory Theatre this summer. The production, which runs June 21-30, is based on the classic tale by Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

“We were amazed by the level of interest and talent at auditions,” said Anna Kimmell, Director of Education at The Rep, who is the production’s director and choreographer. “These students are serious about theatre – many of them plan to pursue acting professionally. Prepare to be ‘wowed’ by their talents.”

Tickets start at $15 and are available at TheRep.org, by phone at (501) 378-0405 or by visiting the Box Office at 601 Main Street in Little Rock.

Willy Wonka Jr. is a musical adaptation of the story about enigmatic candy manufacturer Willy Wonka, who stages a contest by hiding golden tickets in five of his scrumptious candy bars. Whomever comes up with these tickets will win a free tour of the Wonka factory, as well as a lifetime supply of candy. Four of the five winning children are insufferable brats, but the fifth is a likeable young lad named Charlie Bucket. The children must learn to follow Mr. Wonka’s rules in the factory – or suffer the consequences!

“This production features many of the iconic songs from the 1971 film,” Kimmell said. “But we’re also putting our own Rep-spin on this classic by adding imaginative, theatrical elements to the design and staging. It will be a perfect mix of ‘nostalgic’ and ‘new’ to entertain the young and the young at heart.”

The cast includes Lucas Bachus (Grandpa George), Collin Carlton (Charlie Bucket), Jacob Grinder (Augustus Gloop), Izzy Hammonds (Mrs. Bucket), Emla Holsted (Mrs. Beauregarde), Jackson Karl (Phineous Trout), Tania Renee Kelley (Veruca Salt), Caitlyn Olivia Luna (Grandma Josephine), Isabella Nguyen (Violet Beauregarde), Jesse Niswanger (Grandpa Joe), Cabe Parrish (Mrs. Gloop), Corbin Pitts (Mike Teavee), Will Porter (Willy Wonka), Alexandra Powell (Grandma Georgina), Anna Reynolds (Ms. Teavee), William Romain (Mr. Bucket), and Grant Wild (Mr. Salt).

Featured dancers are Sela Booher, Chaelie DeJohn, Amaya Hardin, Caroline Perry, Grace Pitts, and Nate Westerman. The Ensemble includes Eliah Boles, Adelaide Bricker, Emilea Derden, Chelsea Elise Franklin, Robert Gatlin, Alex Harkins, Lauren Lasseigne, Chloe Grace Luna, Betsy McClure, Taylor Moore, Charlie Mulhollan, Emily Pyron, Melody Small, Miles Tillemans, Magnolia Vincent, and Walt Wenger

The design and creative team includes Anna Kimmell, director/choreographer; Mark Binns, musical director; Zachery Ingersoll, assistant director; Mike Nichols, scenic designer; Holly Payne, costume designer; Lynda J. Kwallek, properties designer; Josh Anderson, lighting designer; and Luke Mitchell, sound designer. The production manager is Joshua Marchesi and the production stage manager is Merit Glover. Adrian Griffey is the assistant stage manager.

Merry Wives and Falstaff kick off 2015 Arkansas Shakespeare Theater season

AST 2015 MWWLove and deception are the name of the game in the small town of Windsor when Shakespeare’s famous larger-than-life anti-hero Falstaff comes for a visit.  Falstaff sets out to woo the Housewives of Windsor for some quick cash, but finds himself outfoxed by the wise Windsor Wives, becoming the buffoon instead of the leading man in his own ambitious tale of romance.  The entire family will laugh their way through this energetic and charming farce.

The Merry Wives of Windsor kicks off the 2015 season of the Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre.  Performances are at 7:30 tonight, Friday, Saturday, June 11 and June 13 at the Hendrix Village.  It will be performed at the Argenta Farmer’s Market space on June 25, 26 & 28.

The cast is led by Paul Kiernan, Chad Bradford, Stacy Pendergraft, Paige Reynolds, Courtney Bennett, Matthew Duncan, Jordy Neill, Jeff Gonzalez, Jenna Hokanson, Austin Larkin, Ferginho Pilippe-Auguste, Ricky Pope and Matthew Schmidli.  The youth ensemble consists of Aaron Eley, Jack Ghormley, Sarah Guinee, Ethan Hemphill, Anna Beth Jeane, Camille Lambert, Madeline Leicht, Simon Marotte, Maddie Meek, Kate Parrack, Anna Reynolds, Henry Whisenhunt and Zeke Whisenhunt.

All performances are “pay what you can,” with a suggested donation of $15.