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A 'Sweet' of WILLY WONKA At SCERA Shell Outdoor Theatre Next Month


A 'Sweet' of WILLY WONKA At SCERA Shell Outdoor Theatre Next Month

The world's "sweetest" musical will convert the SCERA Shell Outdoor Theatre into a wonderfully weird candy factory when Roald Dahl's "Willy Wonka" invites its audience to enter a world of pure imagination.

"It's just the right show to entertain us while we maneuver through an unimaginable time in the world," says director Julie Bonifay. "We all could use a little magic right now, and this will be an ideal night of family fun."

Based on the book "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and including songs from the beloved 1971 film, "Willy Wonka" plays July 3-18 under the stars at 8 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. There is no show on July 4. General admission tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for children 3-11 and seniors 65 and older. Reserved areas with a resin chair range from $15 to $18 for adults and $13 to $16 for children and seniors. Non-profit groups of 20 or more may purchase $6 discount tickets in advance (no refunds or exchanges)

Bonifay is giving a shout out to the late Jerry Elison, with whom she worked at SCERA for more than a decade. Like Elison, she chose to use a large cast and give many people an opportunity to perform. Elison family members are a big part behind the scenes and in the spotlight, including granddaughter Gwen Elison Wood serving as the stage manager, his son Kurt Elison as Grandpa George, grandson Luke Elison in the ensemble, and grandson Chase Elison as sound designer and audio engineer.

"We all miss Jerry so much, and I'm using much of the team he used," she explains. "It's my way of honoring him."

The fantasy revolves around sweet-natured Charlie Bucket, a poverty-stricken paperboy who wins one of five trips to a mysterious candy factory after purchasing a chocolate bar for his grandfather that contains the coveted golden ticket.

With his Grandpa Joe, they enter a factory crammed with cauldrons of candy and rivers of chocolate with eccentric candy man Willy Wonka as their host. This begins an adventure through a labyrinth of lemon drops and life lessons where a series of intriguing disasters unfold when the other precocious children don't follow the rules.

The factory escapade provides a perfect outlet to showcase Dahl's unpredictable turns and twists in his storytelling where the viewer is not quite sure that "all's well that ends well."

One of the show's stars is the flying effects from ZFX, including a fly system for characters to reach literal new heights, as well as the signature Wonkavator. Scenic designer Shawn M. Herrera added subtle touches to each room in the factory to entice the child from that region. For example, there is a nod to Disney's Matterhorn, with a Yeti Funko Pop hidden on the piece. There is also a Wonka-fied "Hollywood" sign in the Choco-vision room. The color palette for the candy factory was based on the video game Candy Crush.

Leading players are Erik Schaumann and Alex Stringham as Willy Wonka and Charlie Bucket; Ethan Devey is Augustus Gloop; Bo Jaqueline Chester is Veruca Salt; Bonnie Weiss is Violet Beauregarde; and Nathaniel Mildenstein is Mike Teavee. The creative team includes Dana Cardon as music director; Dani LeCompte as choreographer; Shawn M. Herrera as scenic designer; Kelsey Seaver as costume designer; Elizabeth Griffiths as lighting designer; and Christy Norton as props designer.

COVID-19 GUIDELINES: Elderly and high risk patrons should go to Gate 8 for early entry. We are implementing procedures including reduced capacity, seating set up for distancing, staff to wear masks and gloves, extra sanitation measures, hand sanitizer stations, distancing markers and signage, and all other means recommended by the state and county. We strongly encourage all patrons to wear a face covering, but especially as you enter, get seated, at concessions and in the restrooms. The temperatures of our staff and casts are taken daily. Of course, please stay home if you are sick.

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