Journalism sample: entertainment review

When the children come out to act in one of Hawaii’s community theater plays, everyone on the Island buys a ticket to the event. It was always Coletta Teske’s pleasure to sit in the audience, enjoy the entertainment, and share her theater review.

Theater Review by Coletta Teske

Alternate Realities

Review: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Special to West Hawaii Today (September 2, 2005)
Pages C1 and C2 (Entertainment section).
Word count: 816

The aroma of chocolate-scented programs permeated the Parker School Auditorium before the opening curtain of Waimea Community Theatre’s production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory last weekend. One’s imagination could only wonder what other delights were in store while the decadent fragrance stimulated the senses.

The Waimea Community Theatre didn’t get on the bandwagon because of the latest Johnny Depp movie. According to Michael Bray, a Waimea Community Theatre board member, they had been looking for a suitable script for several years. Nicole Miller, director of the production and a teacher at Hualalai Academy, suggested a script that worked well for her last year as a school play.

The script used was written by Richard George, a teacher at Hualalai, and was sanctioned by Ronald Dahl, the author of the book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. This script is adapted to younger, school-age actors.

Miller wanted to direct Charlie and the Chocolate Factory because “the Gene Wilder version was magical. The idea of pure imagination, living life without boundaries and creating your own realities intrigued me.”

Miller’s intent with the Waimea Community Theatre production was to keep the magical aspect, have fun and bring the audience into the action.

The play opens with the Candy Man, played by Maren Oom, pushing her candy cart, handing out licorice to kids and singing the story of Willie Wonka. Oom reaches into the audience with her strong voice and personality. “Maren may have the best voice on the island,” said Madeline Schatz, musical director.

Schatz deserves credit for the quality of the actors’ singing.

“Madeline adapted the music to each singer’s voice. She even made singers out of actors that had never had singing parts before,” Miller said.

As the Candy Man sings, Slugworth – played by Jackson Conrad, who is also the Understudy Extraordinaire – quietly blends in with the black stage wearing black clothes and lends an aura of intrigue.

The first scene is a dramatic introduction of each of the five children that find a golden ticket, their pass into the Chocolate Factory. Kyra Boyle, who plays Augusta Gloop, happily eats a chocolate donut and gleefully exclaims her love of chocolate. Sofia Boucher, as Violet Beauregarde, proves she can talk and chew gum at the same time while showing off her three month old wad of chewing gum.

Shasta Rizzi does an excellent portrayal of Veruca Salt. She excites the audience to cheers when she drops to the floor and demonstrates her extraordinary talents as a tantrum thrower. Ryan Jalernpan proves that Mike Teavee can’t get enough of his magical TV remote control. And, Tyler Van Kirk plays the meek and mild-mannered Charlie Bucket.

Charlie dreams about winning the golden ticket in his home with his mother and grandparents. (Photo by Brad Ballesteros | West Hawaii Today)

“There are two actors that share the role of Veruca Salt. They were both so fabulous that we couldn’t turn either one down,” said Miller and Schatz.

Finally, the appearance of Willie Wonka – played by Dylan Brennan – starts everyone on a journey of pure imagination. Brennan’s performance is enchanting. Not only do his gestures, facial expressions and keen sense of humor keep you entranced and laughing, he bears an uncanny resemblance to Johnny Depp.

There are four major set changes during the play.

“Designing the set was a challenge from the beginning,” stated David Gomes, who is in charge of set design and construction. “We started the set two weekends before the opening night.”

The set is designed like the leaves of a book so that two people can make the set changes by pushing walls.

Robyn Duquesne, who is in charge of set décor and artwork design, was faced with creating a side panel that integrated with each set. The designer did a marvelous job of blending the side panel into each set, which are different colors. For Duquesne, the challenge was to get everything painted on time. At the last minute, she painted the name on the boat.

Willy Wonka takes winners of the golden tickets and their guests on a boat ride to his chocolate factory.
Willy Wonka takes winners of the golden tickets and their guests on a boat ride to his chocolate factory. (Photo by Brad Ballesteros | West Hawaii Today)

“If you don’t do something at the last minute, I think it curses the show,” she said.

The actors even eat parts of the delightful set.

“Some of the props have break-away parts and pieces that are edible. The kids actually take a bite out of a candy bar or lick a lollipop,” said Greer Woodward, producer.

With the help of one’s imagination, the brown fabric that represents the Chocolate River turns into a flowing river when Augusta Gloop dives face-first into the fabric and comes up with a chocolate-covered face.

Dee Dee Micco is the mastermind behind the clever props. She used flashing lights to show off the Gum Machine and the Elevator.

Oompa Lumpas performing in Waimea Community Theatre's production of 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.'
Oompa Lumpas. (Photo by Brad Ballesteros | West Hawaii Today)

In the end, it was the between-scene appearances of the fifteen children that played the Oompa Loompas that stole the show. While singing their songs about the evils of gluttony and greed, selfishness and laziness, and the happiness of being an Oompa Loompa, they evoked cheers, laughter, and roaring ovations while they strolled and swayed through the audience.

Copyright 2020 Coletta Teske
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