Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka is just the sort of light trifle that will amuse adults and children alike on a hot summer evening—as refreshing as an ice cream cone.
Directed by Carol Harris with choreography by Jyovonne Montosa at Morgan Hill’s South Valley Civic Theatre, the show, adapted from Dahl’s 1964 children’s book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and the 1971 movie musical, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, is the story of Charlie Bucket, the young son of a laid-off factory worker, who is one of five children who wins a tour of Willy Wonka’s fabulous chocolate factory. The other four winners are all horrid brats, but Charlie ultimately prevails, as is only right.
The key adults in the musical are Jason Harris as Wonka, the eccentric chocolatier who has no one to inherit his wondrous factory; Zack Goller as newsman Phineous Trout and Chris Bezanson as the Candy Man. All turn in well-grounded performances, especially Harris, whose voice is ideally suited to such tunes as “Pure Imagination” and “Golden Age of Chocolate.”
Harris, resplendent in a purple velvet frock coat with multicolored satin vest and the ever-present top hat, displays a clear affection for Charlie and ultimately the whole Bucket family.
Maya King as Charlie has the heaviest lifting throughout the show, with such songs as “Think Positive” (opposite Joe Hartman as Mr. Bucket), and “Flying” and “The Burping Song,” opposite Chris Souza as Grandpa Joe. On opening night, some pitch challenges were resolved as the show developed; King, who is just 11 years old, has a guileless stage presence and demonstrates a relaxed and comfortable ability as an actor, singer and dancer.
The four other kids on the factory tour make the most of their various roles as brats, from Josh Watts as the greedy guts Augustus Gloop, Leah Grifall as the demanding South American Veruca Salt, Jillian Puente as the insufferable gum-smacking Violet Beauregarde and Sean O’Connor as the TV addict Mike Teavee. Each gets his or her comeuppance on the factory tour, with the Oompa Loompas, the tribe of factory workers who serve as the moral compass of the show.
Set design by Robin Bezanson, Carol Harris and Jason Leong is a wonder of wild imagination, with Wonka’s factory filled with pixie sticks and lollipops galore. The Bucket home, barely a shack, stands in stark contrast, with all four of Charlie’s grandparents crammed into a single bed.
Costumer Michelle Griffin, assisted by Terri Miles, has done fine work, from Wonka’s stylish velvet coat to the Oompa Loompas’ Hershey Kiss-style caps.
‘Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka.’ Based on the book, ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ by Roald Dahl. Music and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley. Through July 15 at South Valley Civic Theatre, Morgan Hill Community Playhouse, Fifth and Monterey Streets, Morgan Hill. Tickets $25 general, $20 seniors, $16 students. 408.842.SHOW; SVCT.org.