Wednesday, December 07, 2022

‘Pure imagination’

Staff Writer | June 1, 2022 1:20 AM

MOSES LAKE — Dancers will tap, swoop and spin their way across the Moses Lake High School stage as the Moses Lake Ballet Academy presents its “Willy Wonka” Thursday.

The performance will draw on both the 1970 movie “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” with Gene Wilder in the title role and the 2005 movie “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp as the eccentric confectioner. Both films are adaptations of the 1964 children’s book “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” by Roald Dahl.

“I kind of took my own spin on it and developed a show based on those two movies,” said Rian Miles, co-director of the academy and the show’s choreographer. “There's gonna be jazz and tap, lyrical and hip hop in the show. It'll go through each character and give the story of the show.”

The story begins when candy maker Willy Wonka (played by Alyssa Kershner) announces he will open his famously-secret candy factory to a tour for the finders of five golden tickets, each hidden in the wrapper of a candy bar. One of the tickets is found by the impoverished Charlie Bucket (Madeline Voigt), who brings his Grandpa Joe (Jenna Laney) with him to the factory. The other winners are Violet Beauregarde (Esther Roeber), who is never without a mouthful of gum; the horrifically spoiled Veruca Salt (Lily Schindler); the gluttonous Augustus Gloop (Emma Fulkerson) and Mike Teevee, who, as his name suggests, is addicted to watching television. His character is updated in the dance performance to Siri Cellphone and played by Reegan Radach. As the children tour the factory, each is confronted with a test of character, accompanied by singing and dancing Oompa Loompas.

The music will be a mixture of songs from the soundtracks of both films, Miles said.

“I used a different rendition for “Pure Imagination”; it's a cover song that's actually not the Gene Wilder version. And then I use instrumental music from the Johnny Depp version, because that does have a lot of instrumental music, not a lot of singing. And I kind of mashed it up to make it my own.”

Veruca Salt’s song “I Want it Now” is taken from the 1970 film, Miles said, and Augustus Gloop’s song from the 2005 one. One factor in Miles’ song selection was the length, trying to keep the show’s run time down.

“It'll probably be an hour and that includes intermission,” she said. “It's not super long. That will be good for kids and families who have wiggle worms like I do. But it'll be exciting enough to keep them throughout the show.”

Miles picked “Willy Wonka” because the music was well known and kid-friendly, she said.

“We do spring shows every year,” she said. “The ballet portion of our studio does a ballet spring recital, like this year we did the show called ‘Coppélia.’ And I was going to do the show called ‘Cats’ and have our kids do that. But I was realizing that with the amount of kids and the props, and the storyline of ‘Cats’ is kind of boring for kids. So, I wanted something a little bit more magical, a little bit more upbeat.”

Like the music, the costumes are a mix of the two movies. Veruca Salt wears an English schoolgirl dress from 1970 while Augustus Gloop is dressed in horizontal stripes as in the 2005 film. Willy Wonka is dressed to match Johnny Depp’s character. T

“I have had a ton of parent volunteers,” said Miles. “My dad has helped build props and some other parents have built props. I've done a lot of my own prop building, material making. So it's just been a lot of time. Everybody will be able to see the time and the care it has been taken, putting on the show”

“I love the collaboration of all the hard work coming together,” said Victoria Gilbert, a teacher at the academy. “The magic starts to come alive when you add the costumes and props and it all comes together.”

Joel Martin can be reached via email at



Emma Fulkerson (in stripes) as Augustus Gloop and a crowd of Oompa Loompas rehearse for “Willy Wonka” Friday afternoon. The Ballet Academy of Moses Lake will be presenting the show Wednesday and Thursday.



Augustus Gloop, Violet Beauregarde, Charlie Bucket, Veruca Salt and Siri Cellphone rehearse for “Willy Wonka” on Friday.



Charlie Bucket (Madeline Voigt, right) helps Grandpa Joe (Jenna Laney) walk for the first time in 20 years in a rehearsal for “Willy Wonka” on Friday. The Ballet Academy of Moses Lake will be presenting the show Wednesday and Thursday.



Esther Roeber, right, as Violet Beauregarde and dancers representing Pure Imagination rehearse Friday for “Willy Wonka.”

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