Take a visit to the Factory

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 6, 2005

Suffolk News-Herald

Who can sing a cool song, dance around a stage, put on silly costumes in a play for all ages?

Two Suffolk women can!

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In this case, they’re Channing Midgette and Sara Fahringer, and the play is &uot;Willy Wonka’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,&uot; put on by the Hurrah Players at the TCC Roper Center in Norfolk from Friday-Sunday March 18-27.

&uot;I’ve seen the movie (the 1971 Gene Wilder flick) a lot, and I love it,&uot; said Channing, 13, a student at Nansemond-Suffolk Academy. &uot;I’m really excited.&uot;

She and Sara are part of the play’s Senior Company, much like extras on a set. When story hero Charlie Bucket, the poor young boy whose dreams come true through winning a trip to the nearby Willie Wonka Chocolate Factory, is in a classroom at the beginning, Channing and Sara are there. When everyone rushes to the candy store to search for a Golden Ticket, which will give them entry into the legendary factory, Channing and Sara demand caramel offerings from the overwhelmed shopowner. When the winners (some of which we’ll meet very shortly) make their way through the factory, and between Wonka’s orange-faced, green-haired midget helpers known affectionately as Oompa-Loompas, the two local ladies will be in the background, playing the part of machines.

Still, it’s the opening (and closing, in a special surprise) montage of the story of a man who can &uot;take tomorrow, dip it in a dream, separate the sorrow and collect up all the cream&uot; that both girls like the most.

&uot;It’s really catchy and fun,&uot; said Sara, a home-schooler, of the &uot;Candyman&uot; song, &uot;and who doesn’t like a song about candy? I’m not sure if we’ll get to use real or fake candy, and I and everyone else hope it’s real.&uot;

Now let’s meet a few of Bucket’s traveling companions on the magical journey through a world of Wonka’s creation, where what they see will defy…. explanation!

On the stage, Schuyler Midgett is the spoiled rich brat Veruca Salt, who’ll stop at nothing to get what she wants; offstage, however, the Virginia Beach 13-year-old doesn’t always seem so sure what to say.

&uot;I like being bratty,&uot; she said slowly, in a total switch from her stomping performance of &uot;I Want It Now!&uot; only a few minutes before. &uot;I like getting to yell and scream at everyone, but I really don’t do that. Veruca’s my favorite character, because she goes around wanting everything and scaring everyone.&uot;

But she might have some competition in the brat area; Lily Porter, 11, of Norfolk brings to stage Violet Beauregarde, the self-centered gum-chewing obsessive.

&uot;It’s cool, because I get to chew gum on stage and then blow up,&uot; Lily said (her character’s downfall is chewing a patent-pending Everlasting Gobstopper, causing her to fill with blueberry juice and nearly rupture). &uot;Violet’s different; she’s not like any other girl. She’s kind of snotty and bratty. I don’t chew gum a lot, but I eat a lot of candy.&uot;

Hurrah artistic director Hugh Copeland is Wonka, with Virginia Beach’s Alex Petersen in the Bucket role and Jared Glenn of Chesapeake rounding out the cast as Augustus Gloop, who eats his way to (and nearly through) the factory.

On April 10, young Suffolk residents will get a chance to see their city-mates perform; a benefit show will be held at King’s Fork Middle School. For Channing, it’s the first time in a five-year Hurrah career that she’ll get to play at home.

&uot;I’ve done that for other shows, though,&uot; she said. &uot;It’s always been pretty cool.&uot;

The show will begin at 7 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and 3 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $10, $15, and $20.

For more information, call Hurrah at 627-5437 or Ticketmaster at 671-8100.