“Who can take a sunrise / Sprinkle it in dew?” We suspect any child of the 1970s, or of any decade since for that matter, could immediately answer that musical question. It’s “The Candy Man,” of course—in this case, a very specific candy man, the mischievous (and ostensibly homicidal) Willy Wonka. Thanks to the 1971 fantasy film and Gene Wilder’s whimsical performance as the title character, only dedicated readers know Roald Dahl’s 1964 novel highlights Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. No matter; the book and movie are both beloved by their respective fan bases, and both Willy Wonka and Charlie Bucket get moments to shine in the musical-theater adaptation.
That’s the version staged at Tumwater High School by Apple Tree Productions and its director, Heidi Fredericks. In this incarnation, Wonka is played by Jeff Hines-Mohrman, who made an impressive Jean Valjean in last year’s Les Misérables. Lucy Clarke portrays the earnest but impoverished Charlie Bucket, whose quest for a “Golden Ticket” transports the character into a world of pure imagination. “It’s all the music from the Gene Wilder movie,” says Fredericks. “It’s all really recognizable.”
The mission of Apple Tree Productions is to teach valuable life skills via afterschool theater instruction and projects. Fredericks is quick to praise her young students and the team of adults who support them. “The kids we work with are really quick learners,” she says. “There’s just something about this town, y’know? People care about the arts, and people respond to the arts.” Watch for Apple Tree’s take on Hairspray with adult performers this summer, along with productions of (in order) Alice in Wonderland, Jesus Christ Superstar and Aida.
What: Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory
Where: Tumwater High School,
700 Israel Rd. SW, Tumwater
When: 7 p.m. Thursday – Saturday, April 20-22;
2 p.m. Saturday, April 22
How much: $5-$8
Learn more: 360-359-6685 | Apple Tree Productions