— by Margie Doyle —
This weekend, Orcas Islanders again present much-loved community theater, this time “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” based on the 1964 novel by Roald Dahl Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
The story follows young Charlie Bucket and his Grandpa Joe as they join a small group of contest winners who get to tour the magical and mysterious factory of eccentric candy maker Willy Wonka. Wonka has a hidden motivation for the tour, one that he will reveal only after the children in the group show their true colors.
Christopher Evans, whom Orcas Islanders have seen as Puck during Shakespeare Festivals and as Bob Cratchit during the 2014 “Christmas Carol,” plays the top-hatted lead, Willie Wonka. Director Didier Gincig says of the star, “Christopher is pouring his heart and soul into this production.”
Christopher Evans says, “The role of Willy Wonka is kind of a dream character to play. I said yes immediately. Of course, every actor’s brain tricks them into saying yes after some time passes after the last show. I still forget how much of a commitment a live play requires.
“The incentive to keep saying yes, has been the opportunity to work and play and share the stage with my 13 year old daughter, Isabella Evans. She plays Veruca Salt, the bratty, spoiled rich kid who wants everything and wants it now. She plays her character very convincingly, although her personality couldn’t be further apart from Veruca’s. Isabella is one of the kindest and most sharing people I know. She spreads love and happiness wherever she goes.
“I’m so proud of her love and dedication to the art of performance, as well as the four other amazing kids who play the principal Golden Ticket winners — Augustus Gloop (Moose Kinsey), Violet Beauregard (Ayjah Wright), Veruca Salt (Isabella Evans), and Mike Tevee (Lael Watson).
“If there’s ever been doubt in my mind of it all being worth it, the kids keep me going. They’ve really grown as performers and members of a team. If I’ve inspired them at all, I hope they realize that they’ve inspired me.
Anywyn Thomson plays Charlie Bucket. Recently she has performed in the dance production “Island Inspiration All Stars” and at the most recent “Whale of a Show.” Gincig says, “Anwyn is a multi-talented performer who sings, acts, and dances, transforming herself into Charlie Bucket for a stellar performance.”
Gincig adds, “I am amazed by the support by so many people who have stepped up to make this performance possible, from the Orcas Center, their board and staff, to skilled and creative volunteers managing lights, sound, costumes, music, singing, set design, backstage, dance, and, of course, the fantastic performances of the performers.
In addition to the leads Evans and Thomson, Gincig says of his supporting cast: are so funny and are working so hard during rehearsals to give their best for this play.
“Grandpa Joe (Tom Fiscus) accompanies Charlie to the factory after twenty years in bed and is such a delight on stage for a memorable performance for the ages.
“From the Bucket parents (Myles Paige and Hannah Parker) to the grandparents (Bill Gincig, Pamela Evans, Janice Williams) and the Golden Ticket Winners’ parents (Jim Shaffer-Bach, Luann Pamatian, Stephanie Wright, and Mindy Sonshine) will delight audiences of all ages!
“And sprinkled in between you be delighted by TJ Liblik, Riley Helms, Quinn Wildman-Gossett, Scorpio Hendricks, and Tucker Boerstler. Come watch the Oompa-Loompas sing and dance.
“What you won’t see is the amazing work of the backstage crew! And an amazingly clever team of volunteers created a beautiful set for Wonka’s factory!”
Adding to the enthralling production is Gordon Koenig who helped as singing coach, Tiffany Loney (dance coach), Ian Welch (sound), Asifa Welch-Pasin (costumes), and many more have made this production possible.
Roger Ebert, film critic said of the movie: “‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’ is probably the best film of its sort since ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ It is everything that family movies usually claim to be, but aren’t: Delightful, funny, scary, exciting, and, most of all, a genuine work of imagination. ‘Willy Wonka’ is such a surely and wonderfully spun fantasy that it works on all kinds of minds, and it is fascinating because, like all classic fantasy, it is fascinated with itself.”
Come witness the creativity of this Orcas multi-generational team in performing this “wonderfully spun fantasy.” “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” plays at Orcas Center at 6:30 p.m. beginning Thursday, Nov. 16 through Saturday, Nov. 18. There will be a matinee at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 19. Tickets ($12/adults, $10/students) may be purchased at the Center Box Office between noon and 3 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, or at showtime, or by going to the website https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/cal/34217