Alhambra’s Willy Wonka

The Alhambra Theatre opened a special summertime treat for children of all ages (from 5 to 95!), the musical stage version of Willy Wonka. The play is based on the children’s book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by British author Roald Dahl, which was made into a very successful film in 1971, followed by a remake in 2005; the story has been a kid favorite for years.

The Alhambra has been turned into a land of candy and fantasy, inside and out. As you approach the theatre you see giant lollipops along the way as well as in the lovely garden in front of the building. Inside, the walls are festooned with colorful ribbons and hints of delicious treats. You will even find a real candy store with all kinds of goodies (including hats and tee shirts), operated by celebrated confectionary purveyor Kilwin’s, from St. Johns Town Center.

This is the story of the owner of the world’s most wonderful candy and chocolate factory, and it’s very big, too, with 1,700 show rooms!! The colorful Willy Wonka (Stephen Kane) decides to have a worldwide contest to select five guests to tour the factory and receive a lifetime supply of chocolate. He has placed a golden ticket – an invitation – inside five of the millions of millions of chocolate bars he sells. He has no family, and secretly hopes to select one of the five as his heir, who will become the new owner of the factory.

The story revolves around a local boy, Charlie Bucket (Brandon Leporati), who manages to unwrap the bar with the final winning ticket. The audience gets to know the stories of the first four winners in a unique manner. The Alhambra has two large video screens high on the wall on either side of the stage, and each winner is interviewed by news reporter Phineous Trout (Roy Johns). Mr. Johns doubles back as The Candy Man, pushing the street cart selling candy and singing the most popular song in the show, “The Candyman,” made famous by the late Sammy Davis Jr.

About Dick Kerekes & Leisla Sansom

The Dual Critics of EU Jacksonville have been reviewing plays together for the past nine years. Dick Kerekes has been a critic since 1980, starting with The First Coast Entertainer and continuing as the paper morphed into EU Jacksonville. Leisla Sansom wrote reviews from time to time in the early 80s, but was otherwise occupied in the business world. As a writing team, they have attended almost thirty Humana Festivals of New America Plays at Actors Theatre in Louisville, Kentucky, and many of the annual conferences sponsored by the American Theatre Critics Association, which are held in cities throughout the country. They have reviewed plays in Cincinnati, Chicago, Miami, Sarasota, Minneapolis, Orlando, New York, Philadelphia, Sarasota, San Francisco, Shepherdstown, and The Eugene O’Neill Center in Waterford, Massachusetts. They currently review about one hundred plays annually in the North Florida area theaters, which include community, college, university, and professional productions.