Shipmates bring sweet favorite to PIHS stage

11 years ago

Shipmates bring sweet favorite to PIHS stage


Contributed photo

    DYLAN SHAW, a member of the Presque Isle High School Shipmates’ Playhouse, stars as Willy Wonka in this year’s fall musical by the same name. The six-show run premieres Friday night in the PIHS auditorium.

By Scott Mitchell Johnson
Staff Writer

    PRESQUE ISLE — Community members are encouraged to buy their “golden tickets” and enjoy a scrumdiddlyumptious performance of the Presque Isle High School Shipmates’ Playhouse fall musical, “Willy Wonka.”
    According to Artistic Director Leslee Mahon, the story is based on the book “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” by Roald Dahl.
    “‘Willy Wonka’ is a popular story and the musical has numerous parts for creative character development,” she said. “Each character has a unique quality which allows the actors and actresses to develop strong characterization with audience appeal.
    “In the musical, Willy Wonka has decided to retire and he needs someone to take over his candy factory. He places five golden tickets in random candy bars and the five golden ticket winners have the chance to become owners of the factory,” said Mahon. “‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’” is one of my favorite books from childhood, and I think audiences will find many similarities in the musical.”
    Music Director Jay Nelson said the Shipmates’ production is closer to the older musical version which featured Gene Wilder as Wonka.
    “If you’re expecting it to be like the Johnny Depp version, you will be disappointed,” he said. “The musical style is a combination of traditional and contemporary. Songs that may be familiar include ‘Pure Imagination,’ ‘The Candy Man’ and the ‘Oompa Loompa Songs.’”
    There have been a few challenges along the way, Nelson said.
    “The musical challenges this year hinge around casting a few girls in roles that would traditionally be sung by men. Because of this, we had to adjust the melodies for some of the songs in order to make it more manageable for the girls to sing these songs,” he said. “Additionally, the adult roles are written for fully mature adult voices, so sometimes this creates some issues with adolescent singers, as well. However, we have done our best to make sure the kids can sing each song as comfortably as possible.”
    A number of Presque Isle Middle School students have been cast as Oompa Loompas.
    “It is exciting to involve the PIMS students this year. This is a chance for younger students to be involved in a musical production, and become comfortable on the stage,” said Mahon. “When I directed my first production of ‘Grease’ in the ‘90s, the Cunningham Middle School students were involved in the show and most of the students remained in Shipmates Playhouse throughout high school.
    “Involving students at a young age allows them a chance to shine and create a camaraderie and mentorship with the older students. Anyone who enjoys theater knows the excitement of a production and the sense of family that is developed when the show opens to the public,” she said. “The middle school students practiced their music and dancing with Mr. Nelson and choreographer Brittany Morrison during harvest, and Elaine Sipe created 30 Oompa Loompa costumes. It is going to be a wonderful show!”
    Rehearsals have been going well, and organizers are certain community members will enjoy themselves.
    “We are currently in crunch time and the kids are really stepping up their game,” said Nelson, “so in essence, we are right about where we should be at this time in the rehearsal process.”
    Zachary Powers, technical/set director, said the set crew this year took a different approach to the design and construction process, as it is almost entirely student driven.
    “At the end of the last school year, with a crew of 21 students, freshmen through seniors, I sat down with my stage manager, Alana Luong, and picked three art directors to begin development of the artistic design,” said Powers. “Those art directors included Angela Wang, Emily Brawn, Brynn Staples and Dylan Ouellette. Once creative decisions had been made, these students were then assigned crews from the remaining students and set about constructing and decorating the set pieces. The enthusiasm and dedication that this year’s set crew has shown can’t be overstated.
    “From the ins and outs of the Bucket Shack, to the reveal of the chocolate factory and its ensuing candy development rooms, this year’s sets are full of creative and expressive designs of which Wonka himself would surely be proud,” he said. “It is a set that allows for creative light design to help accentuate color and shape, as well as incorporate such technologies as a smoke and bubble machine.
    “The real challenge of this year’s set design was the second act. Having to represent all of the various candy rooms while also making sure that set changes went smoothly was at first daunting, but much of the second act set design was modular in concept while also providing access to different levels within the stage,” said Powers. “From the warmth of the Bucket Shack to the wonder of the chocolate river, this year’s set will truly bring the audience into the world of Wonka.”
    Mahon said she has been impressed by the commitment shown by members of the set crew.
    “The set crew has been a huge part of the rehearsals as they have worked all school year on the set and now they are executing scene changes with professionalism. I have been amazed by their dedication,” she said. “It is important to recognize how much work is involved behind the scenes of a show and this stage, light and costume crew has been amazing.”
    The directors encourage residents to come out to one of the six performances.
    “This is a very family friendly show and will be good entertainment for everyone young or old,” said Nelson. “The students have been working very hard to prepare another wonderful musical in the tradition of the Shipmates’ Playhouse.”
    “The musical is full of excellent music which audiences will recognize from the ‘Willy Wonka’ movies and the story is familiar and touching,” said Mahon. “Charlie’s family is struggling to survive financially, but they remain positive and hopeful. Charlie’s dreams come true and everyone can relate to his story of struggles and successes. Plus … who doesn’t love chocolate?”
    This year’s cast includes Dylan Shaw (Willy Wonka), Jordan Buckley (Candy Store Clerk and Oompa Loompa 3), Arianna Forbes (Phineous Trout), Brenden Goulet (Charlie Bucket), Tommy Watson (Mr. Bucket and Oompa Loopma 2), Abigayle Clark (Grandma Josephine and Oompa Loompa 4), Isaac Michaud (Grandpa Joe), Judah Olugbemi (James), Lydia Patterson (Matilda and Oompa Loompa 5), Emma Beaulieu (Alfie), Abby Shaw (Augusta Gloop), Annelise Wardwell (Mrs. Gloop), Michaela Dubé (Veruca Salt), Paige Haley (Mrs. Salt), Hannah Chalou (Michele Teevee), Meghan Legassie (Ms. Teevee), Hannah Stoutamyer (Violet Beauregarde), Laura Watson (Mrs. Beauregarde) and Miranda Flannery (Oompa Loompa 1 and Mrs. Bucket).
    Kids (Act 1): Annelise Wardwell, Michaela Dubé, Paige Haley, Hannah Stoutamyer, Laura Watson, Abby Shaw, Hannah Chalou and Meghan Legassie.
    Cooks/Squirrels/Oompas (Act 2): Emma Beaulieu, Sarah Morneault, Judah Olugbemi, Liam Daniels, Alana Luong, Grant Bridges, Cali Quirion, Skylar Vogel, Cassie Lovely, Nicole Plourde, Kiara Commodore, Rachel Ellis, Taylor Fletcher, Kailey McKenney, Sherralyn Robbins, Sydney Craig, Bailey Roderick, Sadie Kinney, Olivia Mosher, Jun Gove, Sarah Craig, Skyler Ellis, Jazmyn Olson, Cassie Estabrook, Ally Pelletier, Khalil Commodore, Emily Durran, Taylor Burby, Emma O’Connell, Alisa Brewer and Anna Robinson.
    Pit Band: Rachel Scott, Stephanie Winslow, Jonathan Simonoff, Bob King, Jenna Hartung and Patrick Bragdon.
    Directors and play production staff: Leslee Mahon (artistic director), Elaine Sipe (assistant director/costumes), Jay Nelson (music director), Sarah Diette (pianist), Zachary Powers (technical/set director), Alana Luong (stage manager), Liam Daniels (assistant stage manager), Brittany Morrison (choreographer), Renee Ennis, Patricia Condon, Priscilla Gallagher, Brynn Staples and Mariah Ellis (costume assistants), Jordyn Shaw, Betsy Fitzherbert, Brynn Staples, Mariah Ellis, Lydia Patterson and Heather Murphy (hair and makeup), and Garrett Kidney, Page Kidney, Kamden Bates and Noah Garrison (lights and sound).
    The set crew includes Alana Luong, Marta Herzog, Kayli Malenfant, Kaleb Dampf, Liam Daniels, Blake Winslow, Cali Quirion, Casey Lovely, Skylar Vogel, Emma O’Connell, Isaac Demerchant, Grant Bridges, Sarah Morneault, Hanna Postell, Emily Brawn, Dylan Ouellette, Emma Everett, Angela Wang, Angela Hallowell, Molly O’Connell, Kylie Blair, Frank Nunez and Alisa Brewer.
    Performances will be Friday, Nov. 15 and Saturday, Nov. 16 at 7 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 17 at 2 p.m., Friday, Nov. 22 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 23 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. All shows will take place in the PIHS auditorium. Golden tickets are $5 and are available at PIHS and Goin’ Postal.