ROALD DAHL’S WILLY WONKA
The Epiphany Players Drama Ministry of Epiphany Lutheran Church cures the summertime blues with a charming presentation of “Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka: The Musical,” breezily adapted by Leslie Bricusse and Timothy Allen McDonald.
Based on Dahl’s 1964 novel “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and incorporating Bricusse and Anthony Newley’s delightful songs from the 1971 film “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” the entertaining production, fluidly directed by Brett Greenwood, greatly benefits from strong visuals and pleasant principals offering grounded portrayals.
As Charlie Bucket, a London lad living in poverty with his kindly parents and grandparents, fine tenor Christian Johnson delivers an effortlessly endearing performance brimming with humility. Watching Charlie’s life drastically transform thanks to the worldwide scavenger hunt put in motion by the eccentric titular chocolatier (a sufficient Ralph Bordner) constantly stirs emotions due to Johnson’s appealing earnestness. Jim Evans is equally affable as Grandpa Joe, who joins Charlie for a memorable tour of Wonka’s wonderland, efficiently designed by Chris Harmon and Daniel Ungard.
Dahl’s pertinent look at the dangers of shoddy parenting and spoiled children is also effectively upheld in the comical relationships formed by Sandy Schwartzwalder and Trent Beard (Mrs. Gloop and Augustus Gloop), Charlie Arthur and Cecily Dowd (Mr. Salt and Veruca Salt), Anne Potter and Emily Kennebeck (Mrs. Beauregarde and Violet Beauregarde) and Moira Betts and Evan Benjamin (Ms. Teavee and Mike Teavee). Dowd’s rendition of “I Want It Now” and Betts and Benjamin’s “I See It All on TV” (also featuring Sarah Armantrout as Phyllis Trout) are notable.
Connor Betts, Hannah Scaglione, Martha Armstrong-Benjamin, Cheryl Kayser and Larry Klueber comprise the Bucket family. Chace Beard portrays the Candy Man. The unified, morals-driven Oompa-Loompas are colorfully costumed by Maria Klueber and Lori Watamaniuk and cutely choreographed by Erin Ulman. John Benjamin conducts a solid orchestra.
“Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka: The Musical” continues through July 22 at Epiphany Lutheran Church, 6430 Far Hills Ave., Centerville. Performances are Thursday and Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Act One: 55 minutes; Act Two: 55 minutes. Tickets are $10-$15. Call (937) 433-1449 ext. 105 or e-mail Jane Lane at [email protected] Patrons should be advised the show is double- cast featuring CJ Suchyta, Brendan Plate, Timmy Seiler, Jimmy Basner, Brianna Russ, Margo Russ and Josh Schmellenkamp in principal roles. For additional information, visit www.epiphanydayton.org
Monday, July 23
6:30 p.m. “Curve,” a mystery involving neighbors by Sam Havens of Houston, Texas. Director: Jim Lockwood. Production format: Fully staged.
8:30 p.m. “Nureyev’s Eyes,” a 1970s account of the imagined meeting between American painter Jamie Wyeth and legendary Russian dancer Rudolph Nureyev by 2006 FutureFest winner David Rush (“Estelle Singerman”) of Murphysboro, Illinois. Director: Annie Pesch. Production format: Staged reading.
Tuesday, July 24
6:30 p.m. “This Rough Magic,” a futuristic family drama by 2009 FutureFest finalist Richard Manley (“Quietus”) of New York City. Director: Gayle Smith. Production format: Fully staged.
8:30 p.m. “Provenance,” a contemporary tale of wine, history, deception and the search for truth by Daniel J. Weber of Great Neck, New York. Director: David Shough. Production format: Staged reading.
Wednesday, July 25
6:30 p.m. “Excavation,” a drama overlapping the stories of a contemporary single parent and a 19th century fossil hunter by Robert Barron of New York City. Director: Nancy Campbell. Production format: Staged reading.
8:30 p.m. “A Political Woman,” a suffrage-themed romantic comedy set in 1916 Ontario (inspired by J.M. Barrie’s play “What Every Woman Knows”) by 2010 FutureFest finalist Joel Fishbane (“Short Story Long”) of Quebec, Canada. Director: Cynthia Karns. Production format: Fully staged.
In addition, the Playhouse will screen Frank Catalano’s family drama “Autumn Sweet,” directed by FutureFest co-founder John Riley, Saturday, August 4 at 7 p.m. A suggested donation of $10 will be accepted at the door.
For additional information about FutureFest or “Autumn Sweet” contact (937) 424-8477. The Playhouse is located at 1301 E. Siebenthaler Ave.