The world tasted a little better this summer after it was mixed with the perfect amounts of love, children and a lifetime supply of chocolate.
The Sunriver Stars Kids Drama Camp culminated in a Showcase Under the Stars presentation by nearly 20 local students, adult actors and even a few parents. The show, held at La Pine Heritage Park on Saturday, June 19, featured a combination of stage performance as well as a filmed production: the Stars’ version of Willy Wonka Jr.
The cast rehearsed for nearly ten weeks prior as part of a performing arts education program hosted by Sunriver Stars Community Theater (SSCT). Like most else in life as of late, the camp was a very unusual and yet valuable experience for all, said Program Director Michele Hans.
“After weeks of filming individual scenes in accordance with state mandated risk restrictions, the scenes were edited and elaborated to create the film showcase,” she said. “This one-of-a-kind theater education performance offered the students the unique experience of watching themselves sing and act on the Big Screen while picnicking on the grass in the safety of their family bubbles.”
The showcase got underway with a renewed sponsorship presentation from La Pine-Sunriver Rotary. Immediately following the Stars kids, who ranged in age from five to 14 years old, presented the camp’s character development training with the acronym S.H.I.N.E. Younger camp participants held up and called out letters while others answered with the corresponding word. Then two fourth grade students, Abel Lawson and Jadyn Martin, read how each of the five character traits applied to their drama education: S standing for service, H for honor, I for inquisitive, N for never give up, and E for enthusiasm.
Next the group sang the Gene Wilder classic Pure Imagination, followed by the moving ensemble ballad, A Million Dreams from the hit movie musical, The Greatest Showman. After the opening numbers, guests had the opportunity to take photos with set props from some of the most beloved Willy Wonka scenes, such as Mike Teavee’s television set, Veruca Salt’s Good or Bad scale and of course, a candy cart.
As the sun faded out of sight, the movie began. Storyteller Kaysie Smith set the scene, telling of the Golden Age of Chocolate and Willy Wonka’s pending retirement. Smith then introduced Charlie Bucket, played by Logan Kerr, and schoolchildren who gathered in front of a candy store while singing The Candy Man and hinting of Charlie’s misfortune. The next several scenes featured news reports with the various golden ticket winners at their respective homes with a parent, most of which were played by the child’s real-life mother. The young actors did their best impressions of the sassy and ill-behaved characters from the well-known movie and book.
“One of my favorite scenes was Pure Imagination sung by Willy Wonka (played by Saydi Miller), with glittering pixies and impish candy children popping in and out of the scene,” said Hans.
The audience agreed. Families giggled as children oohed and aahed seeing themselves superimposed in a whimsical candy land, which came as a surprise to most, who only recalled dancing in front of a green screen. The film continued in Wonka’s chocolate factory, with each of the odious children being dismissed by one bad decision after another. The delightful Oompa Loompas, played by the youngest of the group, carted them off while singing the appropriately related cautionary jingle, until all that’s left is Charlie. Back in Wonka’s office, Charlie and Grandpa Joe (Dave Schmerber), admit to wrongdoing and Charlie is gifted the factory. The show ended with the whole cast singing a reprise of The Candy Man and a final Oompa Loompa admonition: “Telling the truth starts a beautiful buzz, isn’t it nice when someone does?”
The night also said goodbye to several eighth and ninth graders who have now aged out of the program: Smith, Miller, Spud Wright (Augustus Gloop), Jazzie Hurner (Veruca Salta) and Sofia Klettke (Violet Beauregarde).
Next up the SSCT will present seasonal productions before preparing to host kids camp again in fall 2022. For more information and to stay up-to-date on future opportunities with the Stars, please visit sunriverstars.org or find them on Facebook.