'Willy Wonka,' 'Dreamgirls.' 'Once Upon America' open this week
You don’t need a golden ticket and you certainly don’t need to be an Oompa Loompa to sample the many flavors of the strange and musical world of Willy Wonka.
The East Lansing High School Center for the Performing Arts is offering everyone a chance to meet the Candy Man himself when the curtain rises on “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” Friday.
Created by children’s literature legend Roald Dahl, “Willy Wonka” tells the story of young Charlie’s adventure inside the mysterious factory of the eccentric title character. The 1971 film adaptation starred Gene Wilder as Wonka and has enchanted audiences young and old alike with such classic showstoppers as “Pure Imagination” and, of course, “The Candy Man.”
For East Lansing High School Theatre Director Mark Shaheen, staging a musical featuring a chocolate river and characters soaring above the stage has been a challenge.
“There’s so much going on, it’s really fascinating,” Shaheen said. “Between the effects and the choreography and the singing, it’s really a huge effort on all levels.”
Noah Last plays Wonka and Nathan Hoshal plays Charlie. Technical director Paul Bourne is overseeing the ambitious visuals, which include video projections created by students.
“It’s very familiar and very family-friendly,” Shaheen said. “We’ve all learned so much.”
“Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” East Lansing High School Center for the Performing Arts 509 Burcham Dr., East Lansing. Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.; Sundays at 2 p.m; Wednesday, March 23 at 7 p.m. Through March 27 $10 adults; $5 students; Wednesday tickets all $5 (517) 333-7490
The musical “Dreamgirls” may have premiered 30 years ago and depict a 1960s-era group but, according to director Daryl Thompson, it’s a story that never goes out of style.“It’s timeless — it’s about young friends getting together to pursue their dreams,” he said.
Thompson is at the helm of the Everett High School Visual & Performing Arts Magnet Academy’s new production, opening Wednesday.
“Dreamgirls” tells the story of R&B trio The Dreams as they find success, even as the group is torn apart by the challenges posed by the music industry. The show, inspired by the real-life saga of Diana Ross and the Supremes and Motown Records, won the Tony award for best musical in 1982. In 2006, it was adapted for the screen and netted Jennifer Hudson a best supporting actress Oscar as fan-favorite Effie. Effie’s signature number “And I Am Telling You I Am Not Going” is regarded as the play’s showstopper and has been recorded by numerous artists.
Thompson credits his “fantastic cast” with injecting life into the classic story. They’re awesome – excellent singers and actors,” he said. “They’re really pouring their hearts into it.”
“Dreamgirls” stars Amber Love, Sierra Willoughby, Ashlee Smith, Sineh Wurie, Mickale Nelson, Michael Rose, Brandon Telfor and Jamilia Johnson.
“Dreamgirls” Everett High School Department of Theatre 3900 Stabler St., Lansing 7 p.m. March 16-18 $5 (517) 755-4444
“Once Upon America” and “The Boy Who Cried Bully”
It’s two for the price of one at the Mid Michigan Famiy Theatre this weekend as it offers up a pair of one-act plays. “Once Upon America”, a historical drama, and “The Boy Who Cried Bully,” an updated take on an Aesop’s fable, debut Friday.
“America” follows a trio of immigrants at early 1900s Ellis Island, while “Bully” depicts a couple of modern-day kids dealing with bullies on their school playground.
“Once Upon America” and “The Boy Who Cried Bully” Mid Michigan Family Theatre 440 Frandor Ave., Lansing 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays, through March 27 $6 students and adults, $4 pre-school ages (517) 339-2145