Friday, March 16, 2018

Windham Center Stage production of “Willy Wonka Jr.” delightfully whimsical by Elizabeth Richards

At the box office I was handed a golden ticket, which I took as a sign that the Windham Center Stage performance of “Willy Wonka Jr.” would be a fun and engaging experience from beginning to end. I was not disappointed. 
Willy Wonka played by Maggie Hancock

My experience wouldn’t have been complete without a visit to the concession stand, which was laid out like an amazing sweet shop displaying a wide range of Willy Wonka style treats. This elaborate set up was a preview of good things to come - the sets throughout the show displayed the same whimsy and attention to detail.  

The first act moved quickly through the familiar story, introducing Charlie and his family, along with each golden ticket winner. Each character was portrayed in a way that highlighted their unique personalities and allowed the audience to fully understand them. The costumes and props nicely enhanced each scene, and the energy from each performer made up for the fact that at times it was somewhat difficult to hear from my position in the back. intermission, Act Two launched into the tour of the chocolate factory, moving from scene to scene with seemingly effortless set changes. The scenery showed great attention to detail, evoking the excitement and wonder that the tour participants were feeling - and the message each received when disobeying the rules. The show stays true to the original story while moving swiftly through each child’s challenges.  

The choreography was complex enough to be engaging and fun to watch, but simple enough to be well executed by the ensemble. The hard work and dedication of each and every cast member - as well as the adults who worked with them - was evident throughout the show.

“Willy Wonka Jr.” is an ambitious production and the Windham Center Stage didn’t disappoint! The show will run on weekends through Sunday, March 25th, with performances on Fridays at 7 p.m., Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.  Ticket prices are $10 adults, $8 students and seniors. Tickets can be purchased online at or at the door.

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