'Willy Wonka' takes the stage in Brentwood
“Willy Wonka, Willy Wonka, the amazing chocolatier. Willy Wonka, Willy Wonka, everybody give a cheer!!” While it's not a chocolate factory, Brentwood High School's stage will feel like one April 12-14 when the school presents its spring musical, “Willy Wonka.”
Adapted from Roald Dahl's tale, the musical combines the 1971 movie adaptation with the newer scores from Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley.
The story follows the eccentric Willy Wonka, a candy manufacturer, as he hides five golden tickets in his candy bars. Those who find the golden tickets will be granted a special tour of the candy plant and a lifetime supply of candy. There's just one catch: they must follow Mr. Wonka's strict rules, which proves to be difficult for four spoiled children. The fifth child, Charlie Bucket, is a pleasant young boy, and navigates the plant with his grandfather.
Brentwood musical director Virginia Schaap is in her 11th year of leading musicals. A professional singer who majored in voice at the University of Pittsburgh, she is the lone musical substitute teacher for the entire district and the assistant marching band director for Pitt's marching band.
Willy Wonka was chosen, Virginia Schaap said, for her group of 62 students because it had the most male students of any of her past productions.
“We have 12 seniors, and eight of the lead roles are played by male students,” Virginia Schaap said.
But one of the main roles — Charlie Bucket — is played by a female, junior Zana Daghlas.
“It took a while to really grasp this role,” Daghlas said. “Charlie is such a large character; so happy-go-lucky. Changing ‘he' to ‘she.' It was challenging, but because Charlie is so happy, it's easy to be happy in this role, even if I was having a bad day.”
Senior Paul Schaap, who plays Willy Wonka, has been in seven musicals and believes his character reflects his own personality.
“There are similarities — I guess I'm really energetic like Willy Wonka, too,” Paul Schaap said. “It makes the acting easier because I can be myself.
“It's neat because this role has been played by two awesome actors ± Gene Wilder and Johnny Depp,” Paul Schaap said. “I can kind of pick and choose what characteristics I want to take from each.”
Both students hope to continue their acting efforts when they attend college; Daghlas still has another year before then, and Paul Schaap will be attending Carlow University in the fall as an education major.
While director Virginia Schaap strives to create a family environment during each of her shows, the challenge always lies in funding.
“We are self-funded,” she said. “There's no budget for musicals. We depend on ticket sales and fundraisers to get us through.”
Christina Sheleheda is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.