St. George Musical Theater's "Wonka" promises to be an everlasting good time“Come with me and you’ll be / In a world of pure imagination. / Take a look, and you’ll see / Into your imagination.”

This fitting song lyric perfectly sums up St. George Musical Theater’s mission statement. This reputable community theater organization has been on fire as of late, having delivered wonderfully entertaining stage productions of “Singin’ in the Rain” and “Noises Off.” This past Christmas, St. George Musical Theater gave audiences a grand taste of nostalgia in the form of a warm and funny musical take on the iconic holiday charmer “A Christmas Story.” And now, the nostalgia train continues with an imaginative stage adaptation of the wildly popular “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.”

“Wonka” is another one of those edgy, magical, and unforgettable titles that immediately takes me back to my youth. No, not the disappointing (and unnecessary) Tim Burton film from 2005. I’m considerably older than that. I’m referring, of course, to the 1971 version starring the great Gene Wilder in a performance that’s as vibrant, endearing, and whimsical as it is offbeat, intense, and manic. I’m not sure how many times I’ve seen “Wonka” through the years, but I lost count after 25.

Based on Roald Dahl’s popular 1964 book “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” this spirited musical version tells the tale of a sweet young boy who gets the chance of lifetime when a special golden ticket allows him and his grandfather admittance into Willy Wonka’s breathtaking (and mysterious) chocolate factory. Once inside, young Charlie’s eyes are opened to a world that he never knew existed. The factory at the heart of this story, an imaginative fusion of a candy store and Disneyland, is operated by a childlike dreamer with a most unexpected agenda.

What’s in store for attendees as they enter St. George Musical Theater’s very own version of this most iconic chocolate factory? Veteran director Kristina Harding (who also happens to be quite the accomplished actress), music director Rachel Cox, choreographer Kayla Medina, and their entire fearless crew are playing the answer to that mysterious question pretty close to the vest as to preserve the element of magic and surprise, but one thing is certain: The talented and undeniably passionate Harding has a pure love for the source material, so expect to find everything you hold dear about “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” perfectly intact, but expect surprises along the way, too.

“Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” features the gifted Jared Davis in the iconic role of Wonka with the equally gifted Dan Fowlks serving as his understudy. This show also features a rotating roster of amazing youthful performers, many of whom are new to the theater. All the more reason to come out and see it.

For all its wonderful humor, magic, and chocolate, “Wonka” is really about the spirit and innocence of youth. It is a show that promises to be an everlasting joy for both children and for the children in all of us.

Come on out and grab a golden ticket to “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” In fact, bring the whole family. You’ll be glad you did.  Performances run from Jan. 18 to Feb. 24 at the historic Opera House in St. George,.

For ticket and showtime information, click here.


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