Willy Wonka (Liam Weeks) lays down the ground rules at his factory. – Stephen Dafoe Photos

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by Stephen Dafoe

Roald Dahl’s classic story of Charlie Bucket and his visit to a well-known chocolate factory came to life on the Morinville Community Cultural Centre’s stage Wednesday night.

Willy Wonka Jr. is a version of the classic Roald Dahl tale adapted for the stage for younger performers, but still an ambitious undertaking for Georges H. Primeau for their 2017 drama offering.

Primeau teacher and director Kaitlynn Kelsch-Miller told Morinville News that 50 students make up the cast and crew for the production. Of that number, 30 were cast members. The remaining 20 made up the important behind-the-scenes crew.

The students began auditions in mid-March and learned their lines and moves through daily rehearsals since that time.

But despite the complexity of the lines, lyrics, moves, and the audience’s familiarity with two movie adaptations of Willy Wonka, the young actors knocked their opening night out of the park.

In the titular role was Primeau student Liam Weeks in his first, but hopefully not his last, lead roll.

Phineous Trout (Ava Jensen) talks to Mr. Salt (Landon Preeper) as Verucca Salt (Kyla Bendera-Munroe) looks on disapprovingly.

Joining Weeks’ Willy Wonka at the Chocolate Factory for a tour and an adventure was Sofiya Chvoika as Charlie Bucket, Conan Bolen as Mike TeaVee, Emma-Lee Shreenan as Augustus Gloop, Kyla Bendera-Munroe as Veruca Salt, and Denali Coughlan as Violet Beauregarde.

While the lead characters carried the majority of the action, the entire cast of supporting actors from Evan Charrois humorous take on Uncle Joe to the collective choreography of the Oompa-Loompas provided the audience with an excellent evening of laughter. But more than that, the cast and crew left their audience with the understanding of just what student actors can do when they invest the time into a production.

Willy Wonka Jr. plays again at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre Thursday night. Cost is $7 for adults and $5 for students. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. with the 90-minute play starting at 7 p.m.

Charlie Bucket (Sofiya Chvojka) talks to Mr. Bucket (Avry Thompson).

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