No golden ticket needed! Huge turnout for the Cherokee Players’ Willy Wonka performance

CHS students have anticipated the theater program’s production of Willy Wonka Jr since it was first announced at the beginning of the school year. While the cast and crew performed the show for Cherokee County’s surrounding elementary schools earlier in the week, the theater opened to the public Friday, Jan. 20 and once again on Saturday to perform an outstanding show for Cherokee’s students, staff, family, and alumni.

With Dr. Burn’s helpful guidance, the students led the show. The cast did a phenomenal job singing and dancing to the light-hearted and optimistic songs. Evan Walters, student choreographer, and Shaoey Pace, student music director, played a fundamental role in the production of the show, as well as the crew members who controlled the lights and sound, perfecting the lively vibe of the play.

Also note all professional photos in this article are credited to Daniel Hobson who graciously volunteers his time, turning these life long memories into photographs for our students. These pictures and many more can be found on the Cherokee Players Facebook page.

Playing Willy Wonka, the star of the show is Junior, Matthew Hughes. Matthew does a great job portraying the familiar character in a light and airy, but also cunning way that reminds the viewers of the original “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” from 1975.

Where there any challenges portraying such a well known and loved character?

Every single person who comes to the show is going to know Willy Wonka and expect to see the character they know, so I had to put a lot of focus into portraying that while also implementing my own character choices.

Matthew Hughes

The play begins with Charlie, Emmanuel Mwangi, and his family cramped into their tiny house. Mr. Bucket, Patrick Crowley, and Mrs. Bucket, Mackenzie Glover, teach Charlie the importance of being optimistic and kind even while experiencing hardships. Additionally, the grandparents, Laurel Satterfield, Drew Brannam, and Gaby Huerta Hernandez, lay in bed, providing hilarious commentary.

As we all know from the movie, Wonka invites five children to tour his chocolate factory if they are lucky enough to find the golden ticket. Charlie and Grandpa Joe, Wyatt Darnell, seem to be the only winners that are actually excited to be attending the tour. All the children except Charlie are spoiled, bratty, and dimwitted, so one by one they fall into Wonka’s tempting traps, and they are thrown out.

First expelled from the factory is greedy Augustus Gloop, played by Zack Barrett, and his encouraging mother, played by Sarah Bell. The audience was blown away by the pairs performance of “I Eat More” while portraying German accents.

Soon after, Violet Beauregarde, Hannah Quesada, and her mother, played by Parker Matthews, brought a roar of laughter from the audience during the infamous blueberry scene. The blue dress Violet wears inflates into a big round blueberry after she chews the gum Wonka instructed her not to.

Also pictured is Phineous Trout, played by Evan Walters. Phineous is the reporter that interviews all the children and their parents, blatantly judging them.

The next kid to be thrown out of the factory is Veruca Salt, Amelia NeSmith, and her father, played by Mason Warrington. After begging for one of Wonka’s squirrels, Veruca’s bratty personality causes one of the squirrels to pick her up and throw her offstage (push her down a slide) and Mr. Salt follows blindly.

Finally, Mike Teavee, Frog Vassy, and his mother, played by Sol Richard, brought a fun energy to the show while singing, “I See It All On TV.” The two had a great dynamic, and often made the parents and students chuckle at Mike’s outlandish but familiar behavior.

Of course, as we all know, Charlie inherits the chocolate factory, giving his family a better life. Willy Wonka the play is a sentimental and inspirational reminder to all viewers that above all, it is important to be kind.

Student director, Emma Barnes, is in charge of backstage production, such as organizing props and offering the performers helpful suggestions. During the play she sits backstage with a mic listening to the play, making sure everything runs smoothly. Unfortunately, due to some injuries during rehearsal, Emma was not able to student direct during the show, but fortunately Evan Walters stepped in and conducted a phenomenal show!

What has being Student Director meant to you?

Being the student director of Willy Wonka has meant the world to me. [It] is a lot of work but seeing the production be a success is just so amazing. The cast is incredibly talented and I couldn’t have done it without them.

Emma Barnes, Senior

CHS is thankful for Dr. Burn’s leadership and the role she plays in these talented students’ lives; the show could not be done without her. Congratulations to our Cherokee Players for another amazing production!

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