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Stage Right gets the season off to a sweet start

Any show that has chocolate in its title and takes place in a candy factory is bound to be a hit with kids of all ages.

Stage Right kicks off a new group of theatrical productions this weekend with the "sweet" part of its "Sweet, Hot and Wild" season, an adaptation by Richard George of the classic Roald Dahl story, "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory."

The story is about candy maker Willy Wonka, who hides five Golden Tickets in candy bars, promising the winners a lifetime supply of chocolate and a tour of his factory. The tickets, eventually, are found by five children from around the world, who visit Wonka to take the tour and compete to win the candy. Along the way they meet his workers, a colorful crew of Oompa Loompas.

In the end, one young boy, Charlie, played by Anthony Marino, and his Grandpa Joe, portrayed by John Noble, both of Greensburg, win a prize bigger than chocolate, but only after a series of madcap adventures.

Kevin O'Leary of Greensburg is cast as Willy Wonka. O'Leary says his portrayal leans more toward the classic Gene Wilder version of the role than the more recent Johnny Depp version.

O'Leary, who graduated in May from Point Park University with an acting degree, says working with the children in "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" is a fun experience. "I remember how I was at their age. They're learning. During breaks, I help the kids with their homework. It's a fun environment," he says.

At age 11, Anthony Marino is no stranger to the stage, having appeared in several Stage Right productions, including "Tommy," "Cinderella" and "The Wizard of Oz." He recently finished working on a movie filmed in Pittsburgh, "Steel Town," which stars Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal and is due in theaters this winter.

Marino, a fifth-grade student at Fort Allen Elementary School, says performing in "Charlie" is a lot of fun. "There are a lot of good people in the show," he says. One of his favorite scenes is when he sings a duet, "I've Got a Golden Ticket," with John Noble.

His parents also are part of the cast. His father, Tony Marino, portrays the Candy Man, and mother, Renata Marino, is Mrs. Teevee. Others featured in the production are Stage Right and New York University graduate Lydia Woods as Mrs. Gloop and Roger Rhodes as Mr. Salt. Stage Right students portray roles of the other children in the show. Cindy Baltzer is musical director and Renata Marino is choreographer.

Additional Information:

'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory'

When: 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday

Admission: $18-$22; $15-$18 for students

Where: Palace Theatre, 21 West Otterman St., Greensburg

Details: 724-832-7464 or 724-836-8000; www.thepalacetheatre.org, Stage Right website

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