Willy Wonka Jr. A Chocolate Fountain of Fun at PV Performing Arts

07 May 2017  
Willy Wonka, played by Abby Harris, welcomes the audience with a song to start the show during a performance of Willy Wonka Jr at the Prescott Valley Performing Arts on Saturday May 6th, 2017. All Photos by: Torrence Dunham
Thirty-Two Wonderful Young Actors Bring the Classic Wonka Tale to Life at the Prescott Valley Performing Arts

PRESCOTT VALLEY- Upon hearing Willy Wonka Jr. would be coming to the Prescott Valley Performing Art’s children’s theatre, Abby Harris watched all the movies and fostered an obsession with the characters and songs from the classic tale. A simple idea popped in her head, can Willy Wonka be a girl?

The response from director Brooke Williams was sure it could.

“(Harris told Williams) I’m going for it and she’s like then I’ll see you at auditions,” Harris said. “I show up at auditions and I tried my hardest and I was awarded with the role, so that was fun,”

The decision worked out perfectly as Harris dazzles audiences with Wonka’s famed sarcasm and wit.

“Just running with, trying something a little different and I think it pulled off really well,” Williams said. “She (Harris) did an amazing job with the character, she played it right. I’m impressed with her performance.”

That trademark wit and sarcastic nature is what drew Harris to the role.

IMG 1317Willy Wonka, on right played by Abby Harris, shows known gum-enthusiast Violet Beauregarde, on left played by Maggie Nardo, a piece of new gum during a performance of Willy Wonka Jr at the Prescott Valley Performing Arts on Satuday May 6th, 2017.

“(Willy Wonka) is honestly one of my favorite characters of all time,” Harris said. “I’m a generally sarcastic person in real life and so being able to come and be a sarcastic character and be crazy on top of it and it be acceptable, is fun to do.”

Harris was not the only one to view the movies and decide to bring the character to life on stage.

David Weaver enjoyed Charlie’s positive outlook on life and after some positive reinforcement from his parents, came out and landed the role of the poor boy who only yearns for a good life for his family.

IMG 0944Charlie, on left played by David Weaver, reminds Mr. Bucket, on right played by Malachai Dawson, to keep positive after learning some bad news during a performance of Willy Wonka Jr at the Prescott Valley Performing Arts on Satuday May 6th, 2017.

“They (Weaver’s parents) knew that I had the ability to play Charlie, they knew I was probably the most likely kid they knew to be Charlie,” Weaver said. “ Charlie is just amazing, he’s got great spirit, he always of course thinks positive….He’s just got all the characters that I think I have in me.”

Weaver and Harris are surrounded by a cast of thirty incredible young actors who bring the audience into the magic of Wonka within seconds of showtime. Throughout the show filled with song and dance, the audience sits on the edge of their seat tapping along to the musical numbers along with feeling the heartache every time Charlie opens a candy bar only to find no golden ticket.

“We got lucky with this amazing cast of kids,” Williams said. ”It’s amazing to see the audience react to it and how much they enjoy it and love it. It just reinforces that these kids have made an amazing show.”

IMG 1626The cast of Willy Wonka Jr. shares a group hug after the performance at the Prescott Valley Performing Arts on Satuday May 6th, 2017.

Through wonderful acting of all involved and the beautiful set designed and built by Randy Smith, Kathy Smith, Andrew Ballard, Debbie Ballard, Janelle Ballard and Clint Bowser, to along with wonderful costumes by Margaret Dewey, Prescott Valley Performing Arts brings scenes from the classic story to life in a new way and keeps everyone-even the youngest kids-engaged throughout.

While keeping the audience entertained, Willy Wonka Jr. also provides strong lessons on greed and caring for other people-a main reason Prescott Valley Performing Arts Executive Producer Clyde Neville tabbed the show to hit his stage.

“There is so many positive lessons in it,” Neville said. “With the kids this day and age, one of our responsibilities is to teach them and help them grow.”

“It’s just such a wide-range of lessons for them to learn,” Neville continued.

Willy Wonka Jr. will be showing on Sunday, May 7th at 3:30pm, Friday, May 12th at 7pm, Saturday, May 13th at 3:30pm and 7pm with the final show being on Sunday, May 14th starting at 3:30pm. Tickets are available for $10 and can be purchased online or at the door. An extra bonus is mothers get in free on May 14th for Mother’s Day. The Prescott Valley Performing Arts is located in the Prescott Valley Entertainment District across from the Harkins Theatre and Freedom Station.