‘Willy Wonka JR.’ for all ages on stage at end of month

Leads playing the role of Charlie are from Fairfield and Middletown.

The timeless story of the world-famous candy man on a quest to find an heir in “Willy Wonka JR.” will be brought to the stage in Fairfield by Rise Up Performing Arts.

“Our kids wanted to do this show. So many of our young performers love the show, and we love to pick shows that have a lot of roles and feature a lot of kids. There are so many performing opportunities in this show for kids of all ages,” said Angie Neal, co-founder and program director at Rise Up Performing Arts.

“Willy Wonka JR.” will be performed at the Fairfield Freshman Theatre. There will be six performances with two casts.

“We have kids from all over the city with a wide range of experience levels. We have kids that are in ‘Willy Wonka JR.’ that have worked professionally throughout Cincinnati and Dayton, and then, we have children that are as young as seven years old and this is their very first performing opportunity,” Neal said.

Based on the classic book by Roald Dahl, Willy Wonka stages a contest by hiding golden tickets in five of his candy bars. Those who find the tickets will win a free tour of the Wonka factory and a lifetime supply of candy.

“The actors in the show range in age from age seven to 17, and we were able to fill two complete casts, which has provided so many opportunities and that’s what we really want. We want kids to enjoy performing. We believe it teaches them so many amazing skills for life and for school, and they make new friendships,” Neal said.

Directed by Sarah Grace McCollough, the story follows a young boy named Charlie Bucket and his journey from poverty to winning the ultimate prize, and it turns out to be much greater than an endless supply of chocolate.

“I hope audiences see how incredible each and everyone of these kids are. Our tagline at Rise Up is ‘We create characters from the inside out,’ and we say that because we focus so much on character education,” Neal said.

With two casts for the show, there is a younger cast and an older cast. The Charlie in the older cast is played by Jonah Helton, 12, of Fairfield. Bryson Jankovich, 10, of Middletown will take on his first-ever lead role as Charlie as part of the second, younger cast.

“The show also speaks to what we do with character education. Having a good heart and being a good person is the most important thing, and that’s what we learn from Charlie. He came from nothing, and yet, at the end of the show, he inherits everything, and it’s really because who he is as a person,” said Neal.

How to go

What: “Willy Wonka JR.” presented by Rise Up Performing Arts

When: 7 p.m. March 30, 6 and 8 p.m. March 31 and 1, 5 and 7 p.m. April 1

Where: Fairfield Freshman Theatre, 8790 N. Gilmore Road in Fairfield

Admission: Tickets are $10 for general seating. To purchase tickets online go to RiseUpPerformingArts.com. Tickets will also be available at the door for each performance.

More info.: RiseUpPerformingArts.com.

About the Author