By Nick Woodruff
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Pawnee Arts will host a chocolate-covered musical beginning Friday.
Forty-three student cast members are the performers in the musical “Willy Wonka Junior,” which opens tonight at the Pawnee High School Auditorium.
Pawnee Arts, now in its second season, began selecting 43 cast members in May before school was out of session. The casts consists of the main characters, 14 oompa loompas and six squirrels. The squirrels are played by the youngest cast members, whose ages are from 2 to 6 years old.
Sue Pope, the show’s producer, said she couldn’t direct the children but she can do everything else to support them.
It has been a busy summer, but the program is excited about the upcoming performances, she said.
Pope said third-grader Nick Sewell, who is playing Charlie, is surprising many people. She said he doesn’t go by Nick anymore; he knows himself as Charlie.
“Nick has really surprised us as Charlie for this production,” Pope said. “He doesn’t ever leave character. He always shows up in full costume and he really thinks he is Charlie.
“He is young and he had quite a bit to learn. Nick took on a big part there and he is carrying the part completely and doing it beautifully.”
Pope said not only does the program have a great Charlie but also a talented Willy Wonka, played by Beau Nelson. Pope said he is the “perfect” person for the role. He is going to Tonkawa to study music and she said Pawnee Arts couldn’t ask for a better Willy Wonka.
Even though the cast seems to be doing a great job, Pope said the program needs to give credit to Pawnee residents. She said the support of local residents has been great. They have created a backdrop and professional set that could compare to a big theater group, she said.
Caryn Brock is the director of the musical. Pope said she has done a great job working with the kids and getting it organized. Not only would the play not have worked without its director, but also its musical director, Kristen Blair Guerrero.
Guerrero was Miss Texas in 2009, finishing in the top 10 at the Miss America competition, and is helping with the music in the production.
The show begins at 7 p.m. Friday.
Tickets are available at the door. Adult tickets are $5 and senior and student tickets are $3.
There will also be another show at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Pope said she is proud of what the Pawnee Arts program has done in the last two years.
“Pawnee Arts started because kids needed something to do during the summer,” Pope said.
“Besides athletics, there is nothing to do here. This gives kids a reason to get out of the house and do something during the summer.”