When you’re a kid, candy is a dream: a fluffy white cloud of sugary joy.
For adults, candy is poison, a fat-filled brick of love handles, pimples and excessive flatulence.
But, “Willy Wonka Kids,” despite being a show about sugar-tooth delights, brings joy to adult and child alike. And the opportunity is comin’ round for the community (old and young) to experience two free productions of this delightful tale.
Roald Dahl’s timeless story of the world-famous candy man and his quest to find an heir comes to life in this stage adaptation of “Charlie and The Chocolate Factory,” which features the songs from the classic family film “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” The memorable score features “The Candy Man,” “Pure Imagination,” “Oompa Loompa,” and “I Want It Now” by Academy® and Grammy® award-winners Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley.
Playhouse 395 has gathered 34 of the most eager and theatrically-minded children, ages 5-13, together during its first of two, 2011 summer workshops to razzle and dazzle all with their Wonka shenanigans. Backed by a stellar group of teenagers who serve as junior counselors and assistant directors, and seasoned producer-directors Karen Keehn, Andrea Winkler and Patrick Thompson, the group stages the story of a poverty-stricken boy on a fantastic voyage through the magical candy factories of the Willy Wonka Candy Company – a strange and fantastic place, filled with dancing midget Oompa Loompas and chocolates with powers far beyond those of common Hershey bars.
“Willy Wonka Kids” addresses children’s issues – such as greediness, selfishness and vanity – in harshly adult ways. Death could be the punishment for an adult sweet tooth, so kiddies beware! But “Wonka” never strays too far down the path of realism, maintaining childlike
Oompa, loompa doopity doo: ‘Willy Wonka Kids’ coming sooninnocence throughout its wacky world.
“I had the pleasure of directing Playhouse 395’s 2008 youth production of ‘Willy Wonka,’” workshop director Karen Keehn remarks. “The response was overwhelming, as evidenced by a packed house every night. It’s such an honor to now bring the Wonka story, as well as the rich tapestry of theatre, to our less experienced, but equally as talented younger community. For what a perfect match: the magic of Wonka combined with the true believers of magic – our littlest children.”
So come and support Playhouse 395 and the hardworking, talented cast and crew of “Willy Wonka Kids.” This free event takes place at Bishop Union High School Auditorium, Friday, July 1 at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. And, as one Wonka fan exclaims: “If you weren’t obsessed with ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’ when you were a kid, then you probably weren’t born yet or maybe you lived in a remote cave. Regardless, this one is bound to be a hit!”
Playhouse 395 is a nonprofit performing arts organization dedicated to sharing and celebrating the magic of theatre with eastside communities. The group emphasizes performing arts education and enrichment by way of its Children’s Summer Theatre Workshops, and other endeavors focusing on youth education. For information about Playhouse 395, how you can contribute, or the July 1 production of “Willy Wonka Kids,” please visit www.playhouse395.com  or call (760) 920-9100.