Nancy Sasso Janis
The multi-aged cast of 'Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka' being presented at Terryville Congregational Church have been rehearsing for three months. The Theatre at TCC was founded in 2012 by two church members and in three short years has evolved into a successful company. Jonathan Zalaski, one of the founders, accepted the challenge to "produce this full-scale show on our not so full-scale stage" and directed this production with "pure imagination."
The musical is based on the book Charlie and the Chocolate Family and was adapted for the stage by Leslie Bricusse and Timothy Allen McDonald with music and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley.
Andrew Chase played both Willy Wonka and Phineous Trout. The college freshman (who was a man made of tin in last year's 'Wizard of Oz') had some difficulty with the vocals but was a strong actor in both roles. Emma Wallace is a fourth grade student with a big voice that she used well to play an adorable Charlie Bucket. Community theatre veteran Joe Harding nearly stole the show as Charlie's Grandpa Joe and shared in his bio that he played an Oompa Loompa in a production as his elementary school in 1975.
The director himself, who attends CCSU in pursuit of a degree in musical theater, appeared as the Candy Man. Mr. Zalaski sang perfectly on his signature song made famous by Sammy Davis, Jr. I was excited to read that this talented young man has been cast as Lucas Beineke in the upcoming production of 'The Addams Family' at the Warner Theater in July.
CJ Barber was the ultra demanding Veruca Salt and her brother Nicholas played the German Augustus Gloop. Ms. Barber's voice was spectacular on "I Want It Now," and Mr. Barber sang "I Eat More!" in perfect character. Lyle Ressler played Veruca's long suffering father with a checkbook, and had the best lines as the hard of hearing Grandpa George. Kerri Morris was a riot as Mrs. Gloop with her German accent and polished vocals.
Jayden Machowski played the whiny Mike Teavee and Lisa Watson-Barcia, a pastor at another Terryville church, was excellent in the role of his mother. The pastor of the church that was transformed into Wonka's colorful factory for this production appeared in the role of Charlie's father, while high school freshman Katie Williams played Mrs. Bucket.
At the performance I attended, the role of Violet Beauregarde was played by Kennedy Morris' understudy, the show's choreographer Kayla Mastrocchio. Not only did this CCSU junior do a remarkable job with the choreography again this year, she was very impressive in the role of the compulsive gum chewing Violet. Kudos to her for stepping in for Kennedy, a hard act to follow, and pulling it off with grace. WAMS rising senior Shelby Griffin, a featured dancer in 'I, Don Quixote,' played Violet's mother
Alison Reed served as both producer and Grandma Josephine and Costume Manager Roberta Layton played Grandma Georgina. The members of the ensemble were at their most adorable as squirrels in the nut room and the Oompa Loompas danced well and rocked the colorful wigs.
Overall, the production was very colorful and lots of fun. Due to sound issues, the orchestra listed in the program was reduced to simply Ashley Ryan on keyboard. Music Directors were Jim Luurtsema and Ms. Ryan, with Beckie Scattergood as Vocal Director and Michelle Alicky as Assistant Director. Otherwise, the professional Playbill-style program designed by Mr. Zalaski was a joy for any reviewer to work with. 'Willy Wonka' in Terryville closes tomorrow with a matinee at 2:00pm and tickets are available at the door.
Pictured: The Oompa Loompas Photo by Michelle Alicky