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Santa Monica College Stages Musical Version of "Willy Wonka"

Bob Kronovetrealty
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Santa Monica Convention and Visitors

By Jorge Casuso

July 9, 2019 -- Popularized twice on the big screen, Willy Wonka will come alive in a Santa Monica College (SMC) student production of the popular children's story this month.

"Dahl’s Willy Wonka – TYA (Theatre for Young Audiences) Version" will be presented by the SMC Theatre Arts Department July 12 to 21 at the Theatre Arts Studio Stage on the main SMC campus, 1900 Pico Boulevard.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory first edition

Based on British author Roald Dahl's 1964 classic children's book "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," the stage musical tells the timeless story of world-famous candy man Willy Wonka's quest to find an heir.

"Wonka holds a contest awarding tickets to a free tour of his chocolate factory and a lifetime chocolate supply," the show's promoters said.

"The quest comes to chocolate-covered life as the five winning children -- one likable boy and four brats -- learn they must follow Mr. Wonka’s rules, or else."

Left: First edition of Dahl's classic book

The book was adapted into two major films -- "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory" starring Gene Wilder in 1971 and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory starring Johnny Depp in 2005.

The story features the famous Oompa-Loompas, a race of small people who help Wonka operate the factory.

Dahl was inspired by the rivalry raging between the two major chocolate companies in Britain when he was growing up in the 1920s.

The companies tried to steal trade secrets from each other by infiltrating the competition's factory with spies and marketed their products by sending test samples to schoolchildren like Dahl.

The book was adapted for the stage by Leslie Bricusse and Timothy Allen McDonald, using music and lyrics that Bricusse and his former musical collaborator Anthony Newley had written for the 1971 movie.

For the stage production, Bricusse also wrote new songs with a "retro-sounding" style.

"Our challenge was to create a live theatrical musical event that satisfied your expectations of the book and the film -- but hopefully gave you another experience also," McDonald said.

In addition to the TYA version, there ia an original version of the musical that premiered in 2004, as well as a Junior version and a Kids version.

The SMC production is directed by Adrianne Harrop, with music direction by Gary Gray and choreography by Sheraye Esfandyari.

Show times are 7 p.m. on Friday, July 12 and 19, and on Saturday, July 13 and 20. Matinees are at 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 13 and 20, and on Sunday, July 14 and 21.

Advance tickets are $10 general admission and $5 for children ages 3 through 12 (free for children under 3, on lap) plus a service charge, and can be purchased by going to or by calling 310-434-4319 Monday through Friday.

Tickets are $3 higher at the door. Late arrivals are seated at management discretion. No video feed will be offered in lobby area. Parking is free on Friday evenings and weekends.

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