For the River Dell Drama Club, the spring musical Willy Wonka is bittersweet not just because it takes place in a candy factory. With over 30 seniors between cast and crew who have been together since middle school it also marks the end of a lengthy stage run.
"As freshmen we were the ones looking up to the seniors and now we're in that same role," Dan Salerno said. Salerno will star as Grandpa Joe in his final performance. "It's wierd this is our last show at River Dell but it should be a lot of fun."
"It's surreal and bittersweet," Elissa Hickey starring as Willy Wonka added. "This is my 11th show so I've gone from a no name background role to starring in the name of the show. I get to do what I love but this is the last time with kids I've grown up with. It's sweet to end on this note."
Based on Roald Dahl's "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" student actors and crew members will bring to life familiar faces like Charlie, Veruca, Violet, Mike and Augustus along with an ensemble of Oompa Loompas as the children explore the Wonka Factory
"There are so many leads to work off of this year," Allison Friedlander (Veruca Salt) said.
To balance with creating a fantasy candy factory, students hinted that they will be very special effects heavy along with bringing in outrageous costumes full of detail.
"It's going to be a great show and we're going all out with special effects," Light Engineer Eric Almberg said.
With a new backdrop in place, the stage crew could focus their attention this year on the details of bringing Wonka's factory to life - from the Glass Elevator and Nut Machine to the Fizzy Lifting Drink fountain and a large TV and camera.
"Each kid has their own set piece," stage manager Allison DeNoble said. "It's a huge show with a lot of special effects. We have a snow machine and fog machine."
Another new experience this year is greater emphasis being placed on costume designer Julianna Pereira's shoulders. Rather than numerous costume changes during the show, each cast member stays dressed longer and more details are added.
"In other shows there were more costume changes but ths time the main cast has one costume each," Pereira said. "The costumes are very colorful and we can try and see what represents each character the best. Especially with the kids and Oompa Loompas we could experiment more. If you come to see you will definately be surprised."
In prior years, the drama club productions were entirely student directed and produced but with the largest group of students from cast and crew in the group's history, additional faculty support was brought in. Over 100 River Dell and students came out to be involved.
Desiree Ferrandi and Brian Reich will serve as overall directors and technical directors; Carrie Jacobus joined as cheoeographer; Carol Richardi and James Butcher are the msic supervisors; and Kathy Zintel will lead the orchestra.
Willy Wonka will be performed on March 22, 23 and 24 at 8pm and a matinee at 2pm on March 24 in the high school auditorium. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for students and senior citizens.