Female Charlie Steals the Stage in Windsor Light Music Theatre’s Production

WLMT - Charlie & The Chocolate Factory 2023
Charlie & The Chocolate Factory – photo by John Chan of John Chan Photography

Windsor Light Music Theatre’s latest production, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, brought Roald Dahl’s beloved tale to the stage in a whimsical and fresh adaptation at the Chrysler Theatre this past weekend. Directed by Matthew Dumouchel, this show featured a unique twist with a female Charlie, played by 12-year-old Evangeline Scott, adding a touch of innovation to the classic tale. While the production drew inspiration from the two movies made about the story, there were noticeable differences, including most of the songs, which many may have heard for the first time. The musical runs one more weekend starting May 12, 2023.

The show kicked off with a heartwarming introduction to the Bucket family, living in their cramped quarters, with Charlie’s grandpa Joe, played by Andy Carscadden, setting the stage by recounting the story of Willy Wonka, portrayed by Dane Fader, and his chocolate factory. As the story unfolded, the show took a turn towards the fantastical, with Augustus Gloop, Veruca Salt, Violet Beauregarde, and Mike Teavee, played by Daniel Pike, Brooklyn Dobson, Kashvi Sharma, and Eric Droski, respectively, earning their golden tickets to the factory and meeting their sticky fates.

It was in the second act that the show really picked up, with the children exploring the factory and encountering the talented and extremely silly Oompa Loompas. Pike’s portrayal of Augustus was a particular standout, capturing the character’s gluttony and mischievousness with aplomb.

The use of smoke, lights and other magical stage tricks, made the journey through the factory extremely enjoyable. As the doors of the factory creak open, the audience is transported to a magical world where everything is made of candy and dreams become reality. The vibrant colors and of the set design create an immersive experience, leaving the audience in awe of the whimsical world of Willy Wonka.

As the children make their way through the factory, they encounter the fantastical and the bizarre at every turn. From the chocolate room where a waterfall of molten chocolate cascades down to the floor, to the invention room filled with peculiar and wondrous machines, the factory is a treasure trove of delights that tickles the imagination. In many ways, this on-stage factory explored more imaginary thoughts than the two movies ever did.

Augustus gets a bit too greedy and end up in the pipes at Wonka’s chocolate river, which included a pair of legs dangling from a massive pipe that rose to the rafters.

WLMT - Charlie & The Chocolate Factory 2023
Charlie & The Chocolate Factory – photo by John Chan of John Chan Photography

The Inventing Room is Willy Wonka’s favourite and most secret room. It holds all of his newest inventions and candy that still needs testing, including a certain stick of gum Violet chews without permission.

In the Nut Sorting Room, Veruca runs foul of the nut-testing squirrels, played by Diana Cuckovic, Chantelle McIntyre, Nathalie Mero, Elizabeth Revington Durance, and Renee Wulterkens.

And in the Television Chocolate room, Mike refuses to follow directions and uses Mr. Wonka’s special camera to transport himself into a television, leaving Mrs. Teavee (Amy Pinsonneault) carrying her son home.

Despite featuring the iconic song Pure Imagination, Dumouchel stated that the Windsor show actually drew its inspiration more from the 2013 stage musical adaptation of the story rather than the movie, resulting in a fresh and exciting take on the tale. The cast did an excellent job of bringing the lesser-known songs to life, with standout performances from Jennifer Reisch as Mrs. Bucket and Jeffrey Gartshore as Mr. Salt.

As mentioned earlier, one of the most unique aspects of this production was the casting of a female Charlie, played by the talented Evangeline Scott. Her performance captured the character’s innocence, curiosity, and sense of wonder, making her a testament to the versatility of the young actors in the Windsor Light Music Theatre.

In a twist of fate, Dane Fader, who played Willy Wonka in this production, had previously played Charlie in Windsor Light’s production of Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka in 2010. Fader brought a mischievous and playful energy to the role of Willy Wonka, capturing the character’s eccentricity and charm with ease.

One of the fun parts of the first act, were the musical performances by the lucky finders of the golden tickets, which was treated like a television broadcast with hosts Jerry Jubilee (Matthew Dumouchel) and Cherry Sundae (Dayna Cornwall).

The entire cast, including Andy Carscadden as Grandpa Joe, Brooklyn Dobson as Veruca Salt, Kashvi Sharma as Violet Beauregarde, Eric Droski as Mike Teavee, Alex Raisbeck as Mrs. Gloop, Jeffery Gartshore as Mr. Salt, Jason Andrew as Mr. Beauregarde, Amy Pinsonneault as Mrs. Teavee. Dayna Cornwall as Cherry Sundae, Peter Hrastovec as Grandpa George, Dawn Bosco as Grandma Georgina, Elizabeth Revington Durance as Grandma Josephine, Erin Iverson as Mrs. Green, Rod Turton as Mr. Bucket, Diana Cuckovic, Savannah Guilbrsult, Nathalie Mero and Abigail Muwanga as Gum Chompin’ Divas, Dayna Cornwall, Jaedyn Ellis, Erin Iverson, Mario Muscedere, Brent Oneschuk, Cindy Pattison-Rivard, Micheal Roy, Rita Saad, Matthew Vojvodin, & Rod Turton as Ensemble. Doug Burt, Steven Carver, David Farron, Maria Harman, Grant Jonsson, Trish Kenny, Erin Polachok, Courtney Scratch, Cathy Shanahan, Gerry Turmel, Jeanette Carey-Polchok, Jim Reid, Kathleen Paterson, Kelly Woltz, Lisa Leboeuf-Langis, Marlene Moore, Ruthie Waltman, and Irene Wood as Pit Chorus, delivered an outstanding performance that was sure to please audiences of all ages.

The story of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl teaches several important lessons. One of the main lessons is the importance of good behavior and moral values. The children who win golden tickets to visit the chocolate factory are spoiled, selfish, and misbehaved. They ultimately suffer the consequences of their bad behavior, while Charlie, who is honest, humble, and kind, is rewarded for his virtues.

Another lesson is the power of imagination and creativity. Willy Wonka’s factory is a magical place where anything is possible, and it is only through imagination and creativity that such a place can be brought to life. The story encourages children to dream big and to use their imagination to explore new possibilities.

The story also highlights the dangers of greed and materialism. The children in the story are obsessed with wealth and material possessions, and they are willing to do anything to get what they want. This obsession ultimately leads to their downfall, as they are unable to control their desire for more and more.

Finally, the story emphasizes the importance of family and friendship. Charlie’s love for his family and his friendship with Willy Wonka are at the heart of the story. It is through these relationships that Charlie learns important life lessons and discovers the true value of kindness, generosity, and love.

And it’s with kindness, generosity, and love that Windsor Light produced this spellbinding show that brought us all to a world of pure imagination.

The show runs one more weekend at the Chrysler Theatre, May 12 to 14, 2023. Ticket prices start at $35, and are available for purchase by calling 519-252-6579 or visiting chryslertheatre.com. Learn more about the production and Windsor Light Music Theatre at windsorlight.com.

WLMT - Charlie & The Chocolate Factory 2023
Charlie & The Chocolate Factory – photo by John Chan of John Chan Photography
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