Baker City gets a taste of Wonka


BAKER CITY — Charlie Bucket is starving. Every day he walks past the famous chocolate factory of Willy Wonka, his empty belly yearning for the sweet confections created behind those closed gates.

Then a contest is announced: Willy Wonka has hidden five golden tickets in the wrappers of his candy bars — only five out of 50 million. Mr. Wonka devised this contest to find an heir for his chocolate empire, a worthy child who can continue crafting
chocolate dreams for the world.

Charlie knows he doesn’t have a chance. His father lost his job, and there’s only cabbage soup to feed himself, his parents and his four ancient grandparents. Splurging on candy isn’t an option.

Despite his despair, he perks up at the words of his Grandpa Joe: “We may be starving, we may be poor, but the Bucket family always thinks positive.”

But it’s tough to stay positive when those prized golden tickets are snatched up by awful children — Augustus Gloop who spends all his days eating, spoiled Veruca Salt who gets anything she wants, gum-chewing Violet Beauregarde who shushes her mother at every turn, and Mike Teavee, who is addicted to TV and video games.

One night, as Charlie is bundled against the cold and trying to ignore the gnawing hunger in his stomach, he spots a silver dollar in the street. He buys one chocolate bar — just one — and rips off the wrapping to see the sparkle of a golden ticket.

And so begins the adventure of Charlie Bucket and Willy Wonka, brought to stage by Eastern Oregon Regional Theatre. The story rings familiar with anyone who has read Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” and the songs in the play are straight from the 1971 film based on the book.

The play will run May 4-6, 11-13 and 18-20. Performances begin at 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 3 p.m. Sundays at the Iron Gate Theatre, 2101 Main St., Baker City. Tickets can be purchased at Betty’s Books and Random Resales in Baker City, or online at

A musical of this size requires a large cast — 27 actors and eight crew members. There are also quite a few parent and child pairs, including Mary Collard and her son Addison — he is Willy Wonka and she is the Candy Man, but for a few performances she will play Willy Wonka.

The cast also includes Isabella Evans, Grace Taylor, Trevor Davis, Jaelyn Maddox, Ethan Allen, Joelene Murray, Jonathan Baer, Damon Rose, Justin Wolfe, Lisa Ensworth, Ellie Lamb, Doug Evans, Paige Wolfe, Lincoln Nemec, Lily Hoelscher, Hunter Benavidez, Logan Myers, Maddy Rudi, Sophia Chen, Leona Rose, Daisy Burns, Kate Loennig, Emmie Dickison, Mykenze Coley and Dana Marlia. Mary Black and Keith Taylor accompany on the piano.

The crew includes Leanne Hinkle, Cherie Evans, Ginger Savage, Chris Wittich, Bob Hinkle, Doug Evans, Emma Burgess, Sebastian Cole, Shirlee Idzakovich, Sharon Speelman, Abby Dennis, Lynne Proudfoot, Kelsey Tomlinson and Alishia Burns.

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