In the community

Aspiring local actors bring Willy Wonka to stage

Sam Capps, Abi Capps, and Mollie Calkins impersonate lions as part of the Oompa Loompa auditions back in September. (The Enterprise/Joe Siess)

ONTARIO – Young local performers will bring Willy Wonka Jr. to the Four Rivers Cultural Center for three days of performances featuring the iconic characters and, of course, Oompa Loompas. 

Four different casts consisting of 187 kids will participate in eight shows starting on Thursday, Nov. 21, going through Saturday, Nov. 23. The musical is produced by the Four Rivers Children’s Community Theatre and is adapted from the feature film.

Four shows on Thursday and Friday morning and afternoon are free and specifically for school kids from around the valley.

Ruthie Carlson, the community theatre director, said that about 700 children are expected to attend each of those four shows. 

Carlson said that when the theatre sent out emails to local schools to inform them of the free show, it only took six minutes before the shows were booked full. 

Four public showings will take place on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and then on Saturday, there will also be a 2 p.m. matinee. 

Tickets are $5. 


Carlson said she expects about 2,000 people to show up to the four public showings, and suggested buying tickets online in advance by going to the Four Rivers Cultural Center’s website. Tickets will also be on sale at the door. 

Carlson, who has been a theatre director for 16 years, said that the show’s choreographer, Carlie Sanders, was cast as a squirrel in a Willy Wonka production when she was 4.

“I have kids that started when they were little and they just come back and help and it is so amazing,” Carlson said. 

Carlson said that one thing she likes about Willy Wonka is that the show’s message still rings true today.

“Even all those years later since the original Willy Wonka came out, it is still relevant about how kids can be, or really how anyone can be,” Carlson said. 

Carlson added that Willy Wonka is a great family show and this year’s production is full of local kids. 

News tip? Contact reporter Joe Siess: [email protected] or 541-473-3377.

For the latest news, follow the Enterprise on Facebook and Twitter.

SUBSCRIBE TO HELP PRODUCE VITAL REPORTING — For $5 a month, you get breaking news alerts, emailed newsletters and around-the-clock access to our stories. We depend on subscribers to pay for in-depth, accurate news produced by a professional and highly trained staff. Help us grow and get better with your subscription. Sign up HERE.