East Theatre brings world of Wonka to life in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”

 The ferry scene from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory parodies the famous “Crossing the Delaware” painting. “It was awesome bringing such an iconic story to life. I’ll never forget it,” junior Oli Cluchey said. Photo courtesy of Aaron Kimpton.

Opening on Thursday, January 27th, East’s theater program put on a show with three performances of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl over the course of three nights. 

The beloved children’s novel turned stage show follows the story of five children, Augustus Gloop, Violet Beauregarde, Veruca Salt, Mike Teavee, and little Charlie Bucket, as they tour the eclectic Willy Wonka’s mysterious chocolate factory.

Junior Oli Cluchey, who plays the spoiled Veruca Salt, said that the performances felt as magical as the original novel and movies.

“It was awesome playing a character with such a big personality, because I have an equally big personality,” Cluchey said. “Every night I felt like I got to step into someone new and experience the world through her eyes. It was so cool experiencing such a fun place, and doing what I love.”

Senior Teja Davis, who plays Charlie Bucket, said that as production went on, she noticed her own growth as an actor in addition to Charlie’s as a character.

“It was really awesome getting to play such an important role,” Davis said. “We all made so much progress, I’m so proud.”

Charlie is the second play of the school year, coming after nearly one year of halted production. 

There were concerns throughout the program about how they could bring a story like Charlie to life on stage.

 To junior tech crew member Meghan Hartigan, things could not have gone better.

“Everything from the lighting to the sound to the set design went perfectly,” Hartigan said. “There were some bumps at the beginning of production, as there will be, but I think this show went great.”

The play, dramatized by Richard R. George, takes inspiration from the original 1964 novel, the 1971 film starring Gene Wilder and the 2005 remake starring Johnny Depp. 

Senior Skylar Thompson, who starred as the charismatic and campy Willy Wonka, says that his character’s personality shines through in the play just as much as the iconic movies and novel.

“I was so happy to get this part because [Wonka] is so fun, it was really perfect,” Thompson added. “I only had to flip a switch in my brain to get into character, the whole process felt so natural to me.”

East Theatre director Kathleen Belovksy says that the cast of Charlie overcame every challenge to put on a performance worthy of a Golden Ticket. 

“Once the curtain call happens, I am filled with enormous amounts of pride,” Belovsky said. “It’s a humbling moment because they were able to execute my vision and they were willing to trust me as we went on this journey together.”

Davis said that her experience in this show and theatre as a whole has opened doors to new creative outlets and a family of friends who share a love for the stage. 

“Theatre has been such a positive experience for me,” Davis said. “You find a family here, it’s a great place to let loose and be creative for us.”

Though all five golden tickets have been found, East Theatre is carrying the banner onto New York for its spring musical, Newsies

“I’m really looking forward to doing [Newsies], just because it’s such a big production,” Cluchey said. “It’ll definitely be something really different than anything we’ve ever done.”

East Theatre’s spring musical, Newsies, opens April 28.

Kelsey Gara is a staff writer for Oswego East High School’s online news magazine the Howl

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