Willy Wonka at Robert Adams Middle School April 6-8th

J.D. O’Gara
The ReACT Players of Robert Adams Middle School are rehearsing for a sweet production of Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka, to be shown in early April.
Issue Date: 
March, 2018
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Mark your calendars, because the ReACT Players at the Robert Adams Middle School are gearing up to produce Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka, in cooperation with Music Theatre International, set for the stage on April 6th, 7th and 8th. Dahl’s timeless story of the world famous candy man and his quest to find an heir will come to chocolate-covered life thanks to 55 student actors and a crew of about 25, the show, directed by Beth Hecker (her sixth musical at RAMS). The show is sure to sell out.
Other hands on deck for Willy Wonka include Abbi Richardson, Assistant Director,
Becky Abalutzk, Musical Director, Mindy Allen, Set and Costume Director, Katie Neeland, Choreographer, Dave Allen, Set Builder and parent producers Julie Herd and Erika Pommett, with John Drohan working on publicity. The music will be provided by a pit orchestra comprised of high school students and adults.
Emmett O’Leary, 14 and in 8th grade, stars in the show as Willy Wonka. O’Leary started acting in third grade, as a member of the ensemble for Beauty and the Beast. He’s enjoyed all of the performances he’s been in at the Robert Adams Middle School, including the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland and Prince Eric in The Little Mermaid. He’s also participated in One-Act plays.
“I honestly feel a little sad, because this is the last RAMS performance that I’m going to be in,” says Emmet O’Leary, who will play Willy Wonka. He says he’s comfortable with a lead role, and finds the character of Willy Wonka “cool, because it’s something different. I’ve played the protagonist a lot, so it’s refreshing.”
The protagonist, young “Charlie Bucket,” will be played by 8th grader Chloe Drohan. Drohan says she has acted in Oliver, as one of Fagan’s boys, and in The Little Mermaid. She enjoys musical theatre, and although she doesn’t have any formal voice training, early last year traveled to New York City as a contestant in Playbill’s BroadwayCon “Star to Be” contest.
As for Charlie, she says,” I really like playing this character. I’ve never really played a character like this character before – I’m not usually the main protagonist. It’s hard, because Charlie has to be so innocent and young, and the most recent I’ve played is opposite, definitely much more mature.”
Other lead characters in Robert Adams Middle School’s Willy Wonka include Allison Hurd as “Grandpa Joe,” Teddy Peters as “Augustus Gloop,” Anna Rosenfeld as “Mrs. Gloop,” Colleen Malvey as “Veruca Salt,” Stephen Majkut as “Mr. Salt,” Jocelyn Quinan as “Violet Beauregarde,” Libby Frassinelli as “Mrs. Beauregarde,” Abby Eppinger as “Mike Teavee,” Jordyn Kuharich as “Mrs. Teavee,” Kaitlyn Irons as “Mr. Bucket,” Leah Birmingham as “Mrs. Bucket, Amber Holden as “Grandma Josephine,” Leah Ellis as “Grandma Georgina,” Phoebe Drohan as “Grandpa George,” Adam Hecker as “Phineous Trout,” Summer O’Sullivan as “Candy Man.”
For Adam Hecker, 8th grade seemed like a good time to finally get into the mix and play a character. Adam has often worked the lights for the musicals.
“I was finally like, okay, why not do it. This is my last year, last show, so why not,” he says. Besides finding the stage a “lot brighter,” Hecker says he was surprised that things on stage didn’t run more smoothly. “Everything is really hectic, but it’s really fun,” he says.
Director Beth Hecker says she sees her biggest challenge as an educator.
“I’m a guidance counselor by day,” she says. “To me, part of the education is teaching (students) to be professional, to be responsible, to learn that if they make a mistake, to roll with it. I tell them the audience doesn’t have a script in front of them. The only way they know you made a mistake is if you show it on your face.”
Becker works with her young actors in improv workshops to get them comfortable with doing that, but the night of show, she says, really belongs to the kids.
“The kids really run the show,” she says, with a little help from some high school kids on the board.
Willy Wonka, she says, “besides obviously the fun songs and the dancing and the unbelievable talent,” will also feature some cool special effects.
Willy Wonka will be performed on April 6th, at 7 p.m., April 7th, at 2 & 7 p.m. and on April 8th, at 2 p.m. For more information, visit the ReACT Players page at the Robert Adams Middle School website, http://adams.holliston.k12.ma.us/, and under “Activities,” choose “RAMS Drama.”