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Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka comes to North Central stage

North Central University Theatre’s presentation of “Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka” opens Nov. 10 and runs through Nov. 19. Evening and matinee performances are available for this family-friendly musical of Roald Dahl’s classic children’s story.

The musical, which premiered in 2004, combines elements of both Dahl’s book “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” and of the 1971 movie “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory,” with original 1971 songs and newly created music by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley for the stage production.

Bringing imagination to the stage

Taking the highly imaginative world of Willy Wonka and translating it to a small theatre venue—without Hollywood “magic”—has been a fun challenge for the show’s director, Assistant Professor of Fine Arts Wayne Matthews, M.A., and the student cast and crew.

“It’s definitely technically challenging,” Matthews said. “A glass elevator leaves the factory; a child disappears into a TV… there are a lot of shenanigans on the stage!” He noted that the production venue, North Central’s Anderson Chapel, does not have fly space or wings, which creates great opportunities for problem-solving and imagination (Willy Wonka would likely approve of this!).

Characters with character

But the heart of the show goes far beyond the bells and whistles of the technical production. “Ultimately, it’s a character-based play,” Matthews said. “It’s an unwrapping of each character throughout the play, just like the unwrapping of the candy bars that provide golden tickets for each child [in the play] to visit the mysterious candy factory run by Mr. Wonka.”

And according to Matthews, the lesson learned is the best reward of all. “The lesson is that it’s the person with character who inherits the sweet things in life.”

Special alumni reception

NCU alumni are invited to a special reception following the Saturday,  Nov. 11, 7:30 p.m. performance. Alumni attending the show will receive a 50% discount on admission, THIS NIGHT ONLY, and may attend a reception immediately following the show, featuring alumni vendors Dippin’ Chocolate for a chocolate fountain and “candy bar!”

All performances will be held in Anderson Chapel in the Trask Word and Worship Center, 1410 Elliot Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55404. Show times and ticket information, as well as other upcoming North Central fine arts events, are available at on the Fine Arts Productions page.

Willy Wonka is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI). All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI. 421 West 54th Street, New York, NY 10019. Phone 212.541.4684. www.MTIShows.com.