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by Terry Jacoby
Willy Wonka had a sweet opening and there is still time to get a seat at the table. Pioneer Theatre Guild’s production of Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka had an amazing opening weekend with more shows coming up this weekend.
The production hits the stage at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 9, with weekend performances on Saturday (7:30 p.m.) and Sunday (2 p.m.). All performances are in Schreiber Auditorium.
Senior Mia Galbraith plays Wonka and called it an honor to play the character made famous by Gene Wilder. “I researched the show when it was first announced, and watched many different versions,” she said. “That really helped me even just for auditions to figure out my version of Willy Wonka.
“Gene Wilder will always be my favorite performance of Willy Wonka. He is so brilliant and him improvising things like the somersault at the beginning really just exemplify how unique and brilliant he was. I have pulled many traits from his performance, but I still make it my own.”
Junior Bridget Roberts, who plays the likeable Charlie in the Pioneer Theatre Guild’s production, sees her character as a “good, honest, loving boy and although some things change from version to version, that part remains true for Charlie.”
“Before getting the role, basically all I knew about Charlie Bucket was that she was too poor to afford a chocolate bar, had a loving family with some crazy grandparents, and won a golden ticket,” said Roberts. “Comparing Charlie to the other characters, she seems to be the most level-headed and sane one there.”
Willy Wonka is the magical and sometimes dark story that we all know and love from the brilliant scrumdiddlyumptious mind of Dahl, springing to life on the Pioneer High School stage. The story follows a group of unique (and mostly privileged) characters touring the magical chocolate factory headed by the offbeat yet otherworldly Willy Wonka.
The production is directed by Megumi Nakamura, a senior in the Musical Theatre Department at the University of Michigan. Nakamura is determined to keep the over 50 year old story crisp and make it relevant to the world we live in today.
‘Willy Wonka’s creative team is dedicated to using PTG’s amazing talent and resources to build a production that could only be done with this group of artists at this point in time,” she says. “With fresh interpretations on the characters and their relationships, PTG’s Willy Wonka will remind audiences of the story they know and love, while presenting some fresh and inventive perspective that allows the material to take on new and surprising depth.”