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A world of pure imagination with 'Willy Wonka, Jr.'

Willy Wonka, played by Isaac Verdoorn, welcomes five lucky winners to his chocolate factory in “Willy Wonka, Jr.” at The Phipps. The production runs through March 3. Rebecca Mariscal / RiverTown Multimedia 1 / 5
Charlie Bucket, played by Jacob Weber, finds the final golden ticket in “Willy Wonka, Jr.” at The Phipps. The production tells the well-loved tale of Willy Wonka and his chocolate factory. Rebecca Mariscal / RiverTown Multimedia 2 / 5
The Oompa Loompas work on Willy Wonka’s most recent candy creation, a three-course dinner gum. The musical at The Phipps combines elements from the book and other adaptations. Rebecca Mariscal / RiverTown Multimedia 3 / 5
Willy Wonka, played by Isaac Verdoorn, takes his frightened passengers on an interesting boat ride through the factory in “Willy Wonka, Jr.” Rebecca Mariscal / RiverTown Multimedia 4 / 5
The Bucket family learns that five winners and one of their family members will get to tour the mysterious Wonka factory in a production of “Willy Wonka, Jr.” at The Phipps. From left are Daniel Volk as Mr. Bucket, Audrey Mucahy as Grandma Georgina, Jacob Weber as Charlie Bucket, Nicholas Lentz as Grandpa George, Samantha Stidham as Grandma Josephina, Rex Wenger as Grandpa Joe and Samantha Yonan as Mrs. Bucket. Rebecca Mariscal / RiverTown Multimedia 5 / 5

Step into the world of whimsy, curiosities and, of course, chocolate in "Willy Wonka, Jr." at The Phipps.

The Children's Theater production brings the well-known characters and storyline to life, with pieces from the book, the movie and musical adaptations.

The musical is an upbeat, fun adaptation that will leave audiences feeling good, with a song or two stuck in their heads.

Willy Wonka, the mysterious chocolatier, has closed his factory doors to the outside world after a betrayal by a worker, until one day he announces an opportunity for five lucky winners. Golden tickets hidden in Wonka bars provide a one-in-a-million chance to tour the factory, and win a grand prize.

Among the millions of hopefuls, there's Charlie Bucket, played by Jacob Weber. A young boy from a struggling family, Charlie dreams of being one of the lucky few to see Wonka's factory and becoming a candymaker himself, but the odds seem stacked against him.

Five golden tickets hang above the stage, serving as a countdown in more ways than one as the story progresses and tickets are discovered.

Wonka, played by Isaac Verdoorn, leads the audience through the storyline as he leads the golden ticket winners through his factory. Verdoorn embodies the soft eccentricity of Wonka well, balancing the candymaker's caring heart and nonchalance to factory accidents.

Joining Charlie on the tour are the familiar cast of characters with their own quirks. Emmanuel Hanson plays Augustus Gloop, whose love of food leads him to trouble in the factory. Elliana Naegelen plays Violet Beauregarde, chewing her signature piece of gum. Mackenzie Kroll plays Veruca Salt in all of her self-centered glory. Razik Saifullah rounds out the group as Mike Teavee, whose obsession with technology has been updated for the modern times.

The Oompa Loompas of course make their well-timed appearances, with costuming and makeup to transform the actors into the peculiar beings.

The staging brings the wonder of Wonka's factory to life. The gates are there in the background through the first act, a constant reminder of Wonka's presence in the story. When those gates finally open, the audience enters the mysterious world and the adventures that lie within it, brought to life by costuming, quick changes, lighting and some wiring.

"Willy Wonka, Jr." runs weekends through March 3 at The Phipps, with performances at 7 p.m. on Fridays, 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturdays, and 2 p.m. on Sundays.

Rebecca Mariscal

Rebecca Mariscal joined the Hudson Star Observer as a reporter in 2016. She graduated from the University of St. Thomas with a degree in communication and journalism. 

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