‘Willy Wonka’ sweetens the scene at the Downriver Actors Guild

Photo by Sue Suchyta The Downriver Actors Guild presents the Roald Dahl musical, “Willy Wonka” Feb. 16 to 25, with Daniel Kessler (left), of New Boston as Willy Wonka, Madison Ganzak of Dearborn Heights as the Candy Man, Dresden Keding of Grosse Ile Township as Charlie Bucket and Leo Hellar of Brownstown Township as Grandpa Joe. For tickets or more information, call 734-407-7020 or go to downriveractorsguild.net.

Photo by Sue Suchyta
The Downriver Actors Guild presents the Roald Dahl musical, “Willy Wonka” Feb. 16 to 25, with Daniel Kessler (left), of New Boston as Willy Wonka, Madison Ganzak of Dearborn Heights as the Candy Man, Dresden Keding of Grosse Ile Township as Charlie Bucket and Leo Hellar of Brownstown Township as Grandpa Joe. For tickets or more information, call 734-407-7020 or go to downriveractorsguild.net.

 

Untitled-1From a chocolate river to fizzy lifting drinks, the Downriver Actors Guild’s “Willy Wonka” provides a golden ticket to a musical journey with Charlie Bucket through an extraordinary candy factory.

The show runs 7:30 p.m. Feb. 16, 17, 23 and 24 and 3 p.m. Feb. 18 and 25 at the Catherine A. Daly Theatre on the Avenue, 2656 Biddle, Wyandotte.

Directed by Nathan Vasquez, the musical, based on Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” brings the beloved children’s book to life.

“Children are going to love the eccentric characters and the crazy situations they get themselves into,” Vasquez said. “Adults are going to enjoy hearing their favorite songs from the movies performed by this talented cast.”

Vasquez said a Wonka factory tour was a favorite childhood daydream, and a lot of work has gone into bringing that fantasy world to the DAG stage.

“The audience is going to love the imaginative way we recreated favorite scenes in an intimate setting,” he said. “As Wonka himself said, ‘Surprises are in store!’”

Daniel Kessler, 17, of New Boston, who plays Willy Wonka, said while he loved watching both Gene Wilder and Johnny Depp play Wonka in the movies, he is creating his own version of the character for the show. He said it helps that he has always liked candy.

“The Willy Wonka character is kind of creepy – tempting and kind of against the kids in a way,” he said. “Almost dark. That aspect of the show might appeal to the adults.”

Madison Ganzak, 14, of Dearborn Heights, who plays the Candy Man, said the show is fun, with enough plot twists and turns to keep it interesting, and awesome songs.

She said while candy permeates the show, its message is about believing in your dreams.

“Even if you are poor as can be, if you are going through hard times, from Charlie’s point of view, but you have this one dream, don’t stop believing in it,” she said. “You never know if your dream is going to come true, and it’s probably going to come when you least expect it.”

Leo Hellar, 15, of Brownstown Township, who plays Grandpa Joe, said the show is fun and creative, and the candy is a big part of the excitement.

“It’s super fun, it has a great cast, everyone is high energy and everything looks really good,” he said. “The dances look cool, and it’s going to be awesome.”

Dresden Keding, 10, of Grosse Ile Township, who plays Charley Bucket, said the candy theme, as well as the singing and dancing are part of the show’s appeal.

“Everyone has a lot of energy, and the costumes and sets are pretty good,” Keding said.

Producer Anita Ganzak of Dearborn Heights said DAG chose “Willy Wonka” because it is not a junior version.

“It is the full version,” she said. “We believe our teens are strong enough to pull it off.”

She said candy is key to the show’s appeal.

“Wonka’s chocolate and the mystery of winning a golden ticket are every kid’s wildest dream,” Anita Ganzak said.

She said the song “Pure Imagination” is a great show starter, the props in the show are colorful, and set designer Jim Steele has gone above and beyond with the set design.

“We’ve got a big pink candy boat, and a big glass elevator,” Anita Ganzak said. “They went all out for this.”

Anita Ganzak said the music is really powerful and good.

“The characters are going to get the kids in, but it’s the talented singers and stuff that we have in the show that is going to get to the adults,” she said.

Anita Ganzak said the 12 Oompa Loompas will “steal the show.”

They plan to have a standup cutout of an Oompa Loompa with an opening in the face for children to pose for photos, and she plans to turn the hallway leading to the house into a candy factory.

Also in the cast are Brownstown Township residents Nathan Blaszczak as Grandpa George, Calleigh Butler as an Oompa Loompa, Paris Fisher as Veruca Salt, Parker Forgach as an Oompa Loompa and Alexandria Reeves as a featured dancer.

Also in the cast are Dearborn Heights residents Cassidy Taylor as Mrs. Beauregarde, Kurtis Wilson as Augustus Gloop, and Lucee Wilson as Matilda; Khalia Mims of Detroit as Phineous Trout;
Ellie Beasley of Flat Rock as an Oompa Loompa; and Grosse Ile Townshop residents Payton Harp as Violet Beauregarde and Brayden Keding as Mike Teevee.

Lincoln Park residents in the cast include Grace Ray as Mrs. Teevee, Ella Ray as a featured dancer and Lily Steele as Jamie; Marie Seaver of Monroe of Grandma Georgina; New Boston residents Kaitlyn Cross as Grandma Josephine and Megan DeLorme as a featured dancer; and Riverview residents Aubrey Diebold, Cassidy McFarland and Molly Pelkey as featured dancers.

Also in the cast are Southgate resident Carly Serpetti as an Oompa Loompa; and Taylor residents Kaitlyn and Kayla Aguila and Blake Berringer as Oompa Loompas, Lexi and Ryanne Berringer as featured dancers, and Jessah Price as Mrs. Bucket.

Trenton cast members include Madalyn and Joanna Bailey as featured dancers, Emily Bruce as Mrs. Gloop, and Madison Konarski and Mia Morgan as Oompa Loompas; and Wyandotte residents Andrew Dmitruchina as a featured dancer, Griffin Gardner and Iyla and Vivian Nordstrom as Oompa Loompas, Andrew Willingham as Mr. Bucket; and Nina Lomas as Mrs. Salt.

Gerald Hymer is the vocal director, with Ashley Lia Gatesy as choreographer.

Tickets are $16, with a $3 discount for students and seniors. To order, call 734-407-7020 or go to downriveractorsguild.net.