Willie Wonka to bring chocolate dreams to Lebanon

Angie Mayes • Jul 18, 2018 at 10:06 PM

Willie Wonka and Charlie Bucket plan to visit Lebanon as Centerstage Theatre Co. will present “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” beginning July 20 at Winfree Bryant Middle School. 

The play is similar to the two movies about Charlie, Willie and the other characters. One was released in 1971 with Gene Wilder and the other was released in 2005 and starred Johnny Depp. The show is based on the 1964 novel by Roald Dahl. 

“This is our second year doing theatre, and we decided we wanted to make a big splash, and this is a big splash,” said show director Mitchell Vantrease. “We have a big cast for this show and a lot of talented kids. A lot of kids have returned from last summer from ‘Charlotte’s Web,’ our first youth production, and then a lot of kids are new to Centerstage, so we’re very excited about this.”

Centerstage has a partnership with both Winfree Bryant Middle School and Cumberland University to produce plays at each of their theatres, Vantrease said. 

“[If] you enjoyed the movies and enjoyed the book, you’re going to see a pretty faithful adaptation of it, but it also has its own twist on it,” Vantrease said. “Our Oompa Loompas are unlike anything you’ve ever seen.”

Actor Will Gipson, who plays Willie Wonka, said he has performed two plays with Centerstage.

“I’m going off to college in a couple of months, so I figured one last hurrah with Centerstage,” Gipson said. [Getting the part of Willie Wonka made me] very happy, the lead in a play. That’s a pretty big deal to me.”

He said he likes to find his own version of Willie Wonka, but admits he did borrow some things from the Gene Wilder movie and a bit from the Johnny Depp version.

Cannon Cox, who plays Augustus Gloop, said he tried out for other roles, as well as Augustus.

“I picked up Augustus thinking I might be able to do good with Augustus,” Cox said. “I tried out for Willie Wonka, Charlie Bucket and Augustus. I got Augustus, which I am happy with.”

He said the role is similar to him in a few ways, but not in every way.

“He’s sluggish, which is something that I have, but not really,” he said. 

Vantrease said the show “is just a great way for us to start off season three. This is a great show for you to bring your entire family to, so come out and enjoy.”

Tickets for the show can be purchased at brownpapertickets.com or at Iddy and Oscar’s on the Lebanon Square.

Show dates are July 20-21 and July 27-28 at 7:30 p.m. and July 21 and July 28 at 11 a.m. Winfree Bryant Middle School is at 1213 Leeville Pike in Lebanon.

For more information about Centerstage, visit its Facebook page.

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