By Joseph Pratt
April 30, 2014
By Joseph Pratt
Portsmouth Elementary School (PES) is ready to present its annual musical, this year showcasing the Roald Dahl classic, “Willy Wonka, JR,” with the talent of 62 fifth and sixth grade students. The musical combines portions of the book and the movie to create a story that is colorful, entertaining and full of lessons.
The story follows five golden ticket winning children and their chaperones who get the rare privilege of touring the infamous Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory, which has been closed to the public for many years. Outside of receiving the tour and the lifetime supply of chocolate, the children and their chaperones get more than they bargained for when Willy Wonka and his unique employees slowly reveal ulterior motives and the kids leave one by one in the form of a different life lesson for each kid.
“The story of Willy Wonka offers a lot for the kids, especially with the lessons that the show is riddled with,” Emily Smith, Portsmouth Elementary School music teacher, said. “You know, each of the golden ticket winners have a different lesson that can be learned from their experience in the chocolate factory. Then there is Charlie, who has nothing, but ends up inheriting the factory by the end of the tour.”
Smith said that she chose to produce “Willy Wonka, JR.” because of the many roles that it offers students and flexible casting.
“I had a lot of kids involved and wanted something that gave each kid the opportunity to shine,” Smith said. “I have a lot of talented kids and I knew I would have no problem casting a show with so many principal roles.”
Hannah Martin, sixth grade student at PES, says that theatre is very important to her and “Willy Wonka, JR” makes about a dozen shows that she has been in. Martin will be playing titular character, the famous candy making Willy Wonka.
“I like theatre, because I believe it draws everyone together and when I found theatre I thought I might have found my calling and that it is something I could really do,” Martin said.
Martin has been involved with musical theatre at her school and with the Portsmouth Area Children’s Theatre (PACT). Martin was most recently seen in “Seussical,” but “Willy Wonka, JR.” is the first show where she has had a role of this caliber.
“This was my favorite movie before and now I just like it even more,” Martin said. “It just has a really good story. I originally auditioned for Charlie, but when I got Wonka I completely freaked out and was very excited. This is really my first role with lines.”
Despite being the titular character of the show, Martin said that she is most excited about the end of the show, when everyone bows.
“I like seeing everyone going out and take their bow, getting to clap and cheer for them, cheer for the show and cheer for all of the teamwork that goes into the show, mostly,” Martin explained.
“Willy Wonka, JR.” will run Friday, May 2 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, May 3 at 2:30 p.m. General admission is $5, with a discounted ticket for students at $3. The show will be performed at the Portsmouth Elementary School and patrons may park and enter the building at the Fourth Street entrance.
Joseph Pratt can be contacted at the Portsmouth Daily Times 740-353-3101, EXT 287, or by Twitter @JosephPratt03.