The Candy Man Can: Brass Ring to perform Willy Wonka KIDS

Drew Butler
The Daily Ardmoreite
The cast for the Brass Ring Center for Performing Arts' production of Willy Wonka KIDS. Performances are set for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
The cast of Willy Wonka KIDS rehearse on Wednesday, June 16.

The Summer Youth Theatre program has returned to The Brass Ring Center for the Performing Arts, and the shows will be kicking off this weekend with a production of “Willy Wonka KIDS.” The production features 28 local children and will run Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

“Willy Wonka KIDS” is a condensed version of of the classic 1971 film “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and includes several of the songs made famous by the movie as well as a few new songs. It follows the story of young Charlie Bucket and his tour through the Willy Wonka chocolate factory after finding a golden ticket hidden inside a scrumdidilyumptious Wonka Bar. 

Director Elizabeth Gelona said the show will also employee several visual elements of the film including numerous green-haired Oompa Loompas.

The cast is composed of children ages kindergarten through fifth grade and each of the children will be wearing a special see-through plastic mask to facilitate singing and allow the audience to see the actors’ faces while remaining COVID-safe.

Artistic Director Vicki Gelona said this will be the first Summer Youth Theatre Production since 2019 after the coronavirus cancelled the activities for last spring and summer.

“When they shut everything down last spring we weren’t able to do our springtime Broadway Kids performance and our summer activities didn’t work out either,” Gelona said. “There were so many kids whose parents were hesitant to let them participate, so we weren’t able to cast any shows last summer. It’s really been a blessing to be back. It’s nice to have kids back in the building having fun and singing.”

Gelona said that all of the children participating in “Willy Wonka KIDS” — or any of their upcoming Summer Youth Theater shows — are able to do so entirely for free and do not have to pay anything thanks to the donations of private benefactors.

“They don’t have to buy any costumes. They don’t have to buy the show shirts or pay for the scripts,” she said. “They don’t have to pay for anything because of the private donations that we have received from a couple of people. It’s a very generous gift that they have given the the kids for us to be able to do that, and we feel very blessed.”

“Willy Wonka KIDS” will debut at 6:30 p.m. Friday at the Brass Ring Center for Performing Arts located at 120 A St. NE. Other performances are set for 2:30 p.m Saturday, 6:30 p.m. Saturday, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $12 and available to purchase online at www.brassringardmore.com.