It’s a simple thing, really: a mechanism that raises and lowers a platform.
But in the right hands and with a little stagecraft — like that employed by director Catherine Gmoser and her Oompa Loompas at Tuckahoe High School — it can become a Great Glass Elevator or a device for sorting good nuts from bad or the effect of Fizzy Lifting Drinks.
This weekend, Tuckahoe presents “Willy Wonka, the Musical,” based on the world of pure imagination created by Roald Dahl in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”
<object id=”flashObj” width=”486″ height=”412″ classid=”clsid:D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000″ codebase=”http://download.macromedia.com/pub/shockwave/cabs/flash/swflash.cab#version=9,0,47,0″><param name=”movie” value=”http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9/48345545001?isVid=1&publisherID=37861007001″ /><param name=”bgcolor” value=”#FFFFFF” /><param name=”flashVars” value=”omnitureAccountID=gpaper183,gntbcstglobal&pageContentCategory=Life&Leisure&pageContentSubcategory=entertainment080201&marketName=Westchester, Rockland, Putnam:LoHud&revSciSeg=&revSciZip=07675&revSciAge=1963&revSciGender=male&division=newspaper&SSTSCode=lifestyle/index.htm&videoId=69778662001&playerID=48345545001&domain=embed&” /><param name=”base” value=”http://admin.brightcove.com” /><param name=”seamlesstabbing” value=”false” /><param name=”allowFullScreen” value=”true” /><param name=”swLiveConnect” value=”true” /><param name=”allowScriptAccess” value=”always” /><embed src=”http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9/48345545001?isVid=1&publisherID=37861007001″ bgcolor=”#FFFFFF” flashVars=”omnitureAccountID=gpaper183,gntbcstglobal&pageContentCategory=Life&Leisure&pageContentSubcategory=entertainment080201&marketName=Westchester, Rockland, Putnam:LoHud&revSciSeg=&revSciZip=07675&revSciAge=1963&revSciGender=male&division=newspaper&SSTSCode=lifestyle/index.htm&videoId=69778662001&playerID=48345545001&domain=embed&” base=”http://admin.brightcove.com” name=”flashObj” width=”486″ height=”412″ seamlesstabbing=”false” type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” allowFullScreen=”true” swLiveConnect=”true” allowScriptAccess=”always” pluginspage=”http://www.macromedia.com/shockwave/download/index.cgi?P1_Prod_Version=ShockwaveFlash”></embed></object>There will be a Great Glass Elevator and a device for sorting good nuts from bad (sorry, Veruca Salt, aka Julia Moschetta) and an effect to show what happens when Charlie Bucket (A.J. Pope) and his Grandpa Joe (Frank Podolak) sip Fizzy Lifting Drinks.
At a recent rehearsal, the actors took turns getting used to the lift, with Gmoser at the controls. Even a world of pure imagination requires sleight of hand and plenty of practice.
Kaitlin Boyer, who plays Willy Wonka, clutched Pope’s arm as the platform rose about seven feet from the stage.
“This is high,” she shrieked, to the delight of onlooking Oompas.
Next up was that bad nut, Veruca.
Moschetta’s expression was as large and theatrical as her character, a girl who always wants more. She took a couple of trips up and down, took direction from Gmoser on how to make the effect look real, and was on to something else.
Gmoser said this year’s musical fits the available talent.
“We have a really strong group of middle-schoolers this year, so it was perfect,” she said.
The characters are all here: Willy Wonka and the children who win a trip into his chocolate factory, thanks to golden tickets they find in Wonka bars.
There’s the humble Charlie, the bratty Veruca, the gum-snapping Violet Beauregarde (Danielle Colasacco), Mike Teavee (Leela Gallucci), and August Gloop (Christine Colasacco).
Gmoser says the musical is truer to the original source material than the 2005 Johnny Depp film — more Dahl, less Tim Burton.
Boyer, who plays the mysterious chocolatier, prefers Wonka as Gene Wilder played him in the original 1971 movie adaptation, which is among her all-time favorite films.
“He’s lonely and this contest was to have someone to take over the factory,” Boyer said. “He’s unpredictable and intriguing.”
Pope, an eighth-grader, said Charlie Bucket is a quiet kid whose family’s troubles don’t get him down.
“His main motto throughout the show is to think positive,” Pope said.
He’s at his happiest when he discovers the golden ticket that will get him into the chocolate factory.
Fans of that film will recognize the “Golden Ticket” song he sings, and the “lesson songs” sung by Wonka’s secret helpers.
Emma Haith, a seventh-grader, plays one of the 21 singing Oompa Loompahs.
An Ooompa of few words, Haith said “we express the lessons in song,” adding that she likes the song they sing after Augustus Gloop meets his untimely end.
“It’s a little more catchy,” she said.
“Oompa Loompa doompadee doo
I’ve got another puzzle for you
Oompa Loompa doompadah dee
If you are wise you’ll listen to me.”
That should give everyone a lift.
What: “Willy Wonka”
Where: Tuckahoe High School, 65 Siwanoy Blvd, Eastchester.
When: 7:30 p.m. March 18, 19, 20.
Tickets: $10, $5.
Call: 914-337-5376 ext. 1233
Call: Kaitlin Boyer, Anthony (AJ) Pope, Christine Colasacco, Vini Zaninovic, Julia Moschetta, Steven Ramirez, Danielle Colasacco, Meagan Byrne, Leela Gallucci, Amber Cannale, Matt Ragano, Diana Ottomanelli, Frank Podolak, Abby Stupple, Zack Leone, Michelle Burke, Laura Fitzpatrick, Katie Ferrone, Brian Robotham, Anna DiopDia, Isabel Artaza, Sonia Cabrera, Celia Cabrera, Jeanmarie Castracucco, Annemarie Feddeck, Emma Haith, Jillian Halloran, Deanna Jacopino, Regina Joseph, Amanda Mancino, Marissa Masseria, Jenna Puma, Gabby Ramirez, Deanna Reyes-Guerra, Jessica Swarm, Jessica DePietro, Yiran Chao, Theresse Diop-Dia, Monica Calce, Melissa Leo, Liz Reichelt, Doug Winkleman, Michael Battersby, Mark Sarno, Joe Jacopino, Brad Broncati, Dalton Passeri, Becky McGuiness, Victoria Scotton, Emily DiRienzo, Adriana Vicario, Catherine Verno, Marisa Reis, Lauren Piacquadio, Olivia Fox, Thomas Conboy, Louis Bellantoni, Jack Cirico, Mark Sarno, Chris Porpora, Victoria Baez, Mary Ehring, Libby Lefer, Samantha Romano, Nicole Borros, Lara Sugatan, Alexia Vicario, Tim Moroney, Liam Davis, Robert Tudesco, Chris Ushay, Brian Palucci