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Summer theater will present “Willy Wonka, Jr.”

Summer theater will present “Willy Wonka, Jr.”


Our Town Correspondent


Richland Performing Arts Center, in conjunction with The Learning Lamp, offered a two-week summer camp titled “The Summer Theater Academy” for sixth through 12th grade students. 

This camp will culminate with an open-to-the-public performance of “Willy Wonka, Jr.” beginning at 7 p.m. June 22 and 23. The performances will take place at Richland High School’s Performing Arts Center, located at One Academic Avenue in Richland Township.

During the theater camp, students rehearsed daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Ben Easler, Richland Performing Arts Center Director, said the supportive, all-inclusive environment gave each student an opportunity to learn, grow and develop his/her skills.

“Our theatre camp brings together students from schools all over the area,” Easler said, “so we focus on balancing giving the students some good basic skills and tools that they can take back with them to their own programs with learning an entire junior musical in a two-week timeframe. 

“This camp is always a lot of fun and always has had a great group of students. The combination of age groups and experience levels really allows some students to be mentors to the younger and less experienced students.”

Every individual who participated in the summer camp will have a role in the production. Easler mentioned that, for a few students, this will be their first time on stage.

The cast list is as follows: Hunter Albert, Ashlyn Kist, RJ Shayesteh, Mady Oliver, Liam Delaney, Jenn Berkebile, Makenna Konchan, Ethan Koscienski, Gavin Geibig, Tooba Khan, Camryn Jones, Brianna Rager, Kaitlyn Mock, Morgan Dixon, Allison Moriconi, David Lyttle, Kayla Jones, John Sann, Catherine Veranese, Leah Petrore, Alex Beegle, Lindsey Anderson, Delaney Leis, Zane Ford, Jossalyn McMillan, Brynn LoBoi, Alexandra Murray, Alex Deighan, Mackenzie Tanase-Hayman, Cassidy Dusack; Emma Feichtel; Diane Allen; Ayva Keiper; Melanie Gerko; Brady Grant; Ethan Miller; Olivia Nicoloff; Samantha Nicoloff; Madora Owens; Kendall Rager and Arizona Wolfe. 

Easler is serving as producer of the show, Jacob St. Clair the director, Kim Rauch assistant director and Casey Williams music director. Kait Houck is the choreographer, Jim Lucero the set designer, Theresa Arena the costumer and Wesley Layton the lighting designer. 

“Willy Wonka, Jr.” is a G-rated musical based on Roald Dahl’s story about Charlie Bucket, a little boy who wins a coveted golden ticket and is bestowed the opportunity to visit Willy Wonka’s surreal chocolate factory. 

“This show is very whimsical, is quite funny and has a ton of music and dancing for a junior show,” Easler said. “I think the students will enjoy that they are all very busy for most of the show. The ensemble characters have a lot of responsibility and stage time. 

“Most of MTI Broadway Junior shows are really well-written and adapted to include a lot of students and really keep moving, so that works perfectly for our summer program because it allows a lot of students to be highlighted. 

“The ensemble parts are normally quite busy and a lot of kids get a chance to have at least a speaking line or some other way to have a responsibility. I think this show really works well in those ways as well and suits itself well to the broad age gaps, as there are parts that can challenge more experienced actors as well as roles that are good for the beginning actors and actresses.”

This musical will feature many of the songs included in the 1971 version of the film, which starred Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka.

“The summer program consistently puts on a great show that can be enjoyed by all ages,” Easler said. “There is a lot of talent and some of the best young actors from several schools come together to put together something that is really special.” 

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit or call 814-269-0300.

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