What first appears to be a kaleidoscope of vibrant colors glimmering on the stage is, in fact, “Willy Wonka”’s energetic cast, multicolored costumes and playground of a set – all of which beguile audiences from the moment the lights go on.
Narrows Community Theater’s production of “Willy Wonka” whets audiences with an air of mystery, magic and wonderment. Featuring a predominantly young cast, the production craftily melds the serious with the lighthearted, the imaginative with the ordinary, and the conventional with the unconventional.
Modeled on the classic 1971 film of the same title, the musical centers on young, impecunious Charlie Bucket (alternately performed by Adam Elsayed and Kiera Doherty), the recipient of one of five golden tickets that will afford him a tour of the ever-enigmatic chocolate factory where longtime candy inventor and connoisseur, Willy Wonka, births his legendary creations.
An afternoon of pandemonium ensues when Charlie, his grandfather (played by the caring, crooning Alex Deverson) and the four accompanying children meddle with the factory’s experimental gadgets and candies.
Among the production’s arsenal of unconventional tenets was the portrayal of male characters by female actors: Willy Wonka, played by the delightfully mischievous Jessica Sparacio; the Candyman, played by a sweet, yet vocally powerful Ashley Kelly; Phineous Trout, hilariously caricaturized by Arielle Jurado; Grandpa George, played by a witty Kayla Otero; and Mr. Salt, depicted by a playful Melissa Gaglia.
While director Susan Huizinga admitted that she “want[ed] to portray Willy Wonka as a caring, nurturing figure,” she attributed this anomaly to the lack of male auditions. “We need more boys in musical theater!” she mused. Nevertheless, Huizinga paid homage to the girls’ talents, all of which served as vital building blocks to a successful production.
Audiences surfed waves of nostalgia as the musical prologue opened the show and the curtains kicked open. The band—flawlessly conducted by music director Balint Varga—dissolved seamlessly into the singing, never veering off key or overpowering the actors.
Overall, the music and singing were an absolute pleasure to hear; during intermission, attendees admitted to the difficulty of resisting the urge to sing along with the songs with which they grew up.
Equally as impressive as the singing was the dancing. The production features a series of mesmerizing dance numbers, cleverly choreographed by Adriane Musacchio.
The children’s ensemble poured in from nearly every entrance of the theater and delighted audiences with playful jazz and tap dancing to accompany the music. And once again, audience members tapped their feet to the music and toiled to resist the urge to dance.
NCT’s “Willy Wonka” is an absolute joy to watch, especially for anyone who loves the film. Remaining performances will take place at the Fort Hamilton Army Base Theater on Friday, August 23 at 8 p.m., Saturday, August 24 at 8 p.m., and Sunday, August 25 at 2 p.m. Tickets cost $20 for adults and, $15 for senior citizens and students, and $10 for children under the age of 12.
For more information, call 718-482-3173, e-mail NCT@NCTheaterNY.com, or visit www.NYCTheaterNY.com.