The Golden Ticket to Longfellow’s Chocolate Factory


The Longfellow theatre department presented a musical with humorous characters, sugar rushes, and plot twists that satisfy every sweet tooth. Willy Wonka, Jr opened on May 4, 2023. The play was performed on the Longfellow stage, with help from the tech theatre classes, who brought the chocolate factory to life. 

On opening night, the audience was full of parents, students, and teachers viewing the production. The audience was engaged and laughing the entire time. The tech theatre creatively came up with ways to improve the stage.

Both theatre directors expected the best performance, and the actors perfectly fulfilled their wishes. Many audience members complimented their engagement and skills.

“I loved how the actors portrayed their characters and how confident they were on stage,” said an audience member after watching the show.

To choose the musical, Director Sarah Barry looks at her advanced theatre class to see how her most advanced students perform. That being said, the final part could be given to actors with many to zero previous experiences. 

The lead role went to eighth grader Bella A.

“I originally auditioned for Charlie by singing a song from Seussical and performed a monologue from Annie, and then I was called back for Charlie and got a double call back for Willy Wonka,” 

Many audience members agree that the Longfellow theatre program helps push students to showcase their abilities. 

“I think participating in the cast and crew helps build confidence and develops a comfort level on stage and in front of people.”

While the acting is a crucial part of the show, what’s behind the scenes also determines the effect on audience members. This is called tech theatre. Tech theatre works on transitions, costumes, hair and makeup, lighting, and the set.

“It’s the world of the show,” said tech theatre director and teacher Patricia Talmadge. “This is why people go to a professional show; technical elements are so incredible. When people go to a theatre, they want to be entertained.”

For an entertaining effect, the actors used real soda and candy. This was a worry at first because of how the final performance would go.

“If you have real food, it can get spilled; people can slip on that,” explained Ms. Talmadge. “We had to teach what to grab, how to open it, and where to put it back.”

Though the Willy Wonka Musical is over, the audience will remember that while watching the show, they felt as if they had been transported into the factory along with the characters.

“I just love musical theatre in general, I love singing and dancing, and I’ve been doing it my whole life,” said Ms. Barry. “It just brings me joy to do that with the students.”