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The Suburbanite
  • Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory is heading to the Players Guild

  • This stage adaptation of “Charlie,” which opens Jan. 18 for a three-weekend run, is aimed squarely at kids from kindergarten on up.

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  • The Players Guild’s lower-level arena theater might seem like a limited playing space for a story as fantastical as “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”
    Carrie Spina, director of the upcoming “Charlie” production, felt similarly at first.
    “Then I realized the arena has so many options,” she said. “We have the sides and the space above, there’s stairs to go up and down, doors to go in and out of, and alcoves. It’s perfect for touring a chocolate factory. You just have to think outside the box.”
    This stage adaptation of “Charlie,” which opens Jan. 18 for a three-weekend run, is aimed squarely at kids from kindergarten on up. “It’s a fast-paced show,” Spina said. “The script is only 45 pages long, but we’re adding an intermission to give (younger children) a break.”
    Children will have the opportunity to meet and be photographed with the costumed cast members in the lobby after the show.
    “They’re having a blast,” Spina said about her cast, a blend of kids and adults playing an array of colorful characters.
    Morgan Brown, a freshman at GlenOak High School and already a seasoned Players Guild veteran, is playing Violet Beauregarde, the compulsive gum-chewer who turns into a blueberry.
    Bella Gill, a Canton Idol winner, “blows everyone out of the water with her portrayal of Veruca Salt, the brat who wants everything now,” Spina said. The TV-addicted Mike Teavee, played by Jared Six, will wind up on a 60-inch flatscreen TV suspended on the stage’s rear wall.
    The gluttonous Augustus Gloop is played by Elden Mortensen, a Cleveland resident whose twin brother, Even, is playing one of the six Oompa Loompa and whose mother, Lisa, is playing Mrs. Gloop. “They heard about the auditions in the Plain Dealer and they’ve made the drive because they love the show so much,” said Spina, whose son, Drake, an experienced guild actor, is playing Charlie.
    E.J. Dubinsky, playing the mysterious Willy Wonka, “looks like a Jonas Brother but he’s kinda quirky,” Spina said. “Since he is so young, he brings a really refreshing passion for the factory in his portrayal.”