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.

World premiere of Phillip McMath’s play KARSKI’S MESSAGE next at Weekend Theater

Karaskis-Message-Poster_LgThe latest offering of the Weekend Theater is a world premiere of Phillip McMath’s new play, Karski’s Message.

A local playwright, lawyer and historian, McMath based the play on the true story of Jan Karski, a Polish World War II resistance fighter and later professor at Georgetown University. In 1942 and 1943, Karski escaped capture and near death to report to the Western Allies — Britain and the United States — on the situation in German-occupied Poland, especially the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto and the secretive German-Nazi extermination camps. Karski personally met with world leaders, telling them about the situation in Poland, becoming the first eyewitness to try to convince the world that the Jewish Holocaust was a reality.

The cast includes Ryan Whitfield, Jeff Lewellen, Terry White, Brice Ward, Madison Wolfe, Barry Clifton, Tommie Tinker, Ann Norris, Deb Lewis, Bill Jones, Alexander White, Elijah White, Lauren Lasseigne and Justin Wolfe.  It is directed by Matthew Mentgen.

The play opened last night and continues its run tonight, April 17 & 18 and April 24 & 25. Curtain times are 7:30.