Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Briar Woods High School Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

By • Mar 30th, 2009 • Category: Cappies

Scrumptious sweets, cascades of candy, a whole river of chocolate – Little Charlie Bucket is in for the trip of a lifetime! Sugar-rushed energy and extravagant visual delights made Briar Woods High School’s production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory a delectable treat.

Based on Roald Dahl’s beloved children’s book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was first published in 1964 and adapted for the screen in 1971 and 2005. The play begins with enigmatic candy maker Willy Wonka’s exciting announcement: For the five lucky children who find Golden Tickets in their Wonka Bars, the long-locked doors of his factory will open, and Willy will personally escort them through its wondrous walls. Kind, impoverished Charlie and his vivacious Grandpa Joe, along with four naughty children and their equally unsavory guardians, are quickly swept into this incredible world of confectionary creation.

Briar Woods’ whimsical production was geared towards the awe-struck children in the audience. A definitive strength of the cast was the actors’ ability to portray the full spectrum of maturity, from young children to middle-aged parents to grandparents over ninety years old. These strong characterizations, fantastic visual effects, and the seamless scene transitions afforded by Tyler Kirby‘s original music brought this world of “pure imagination” to life.

Jesse Bhamrah gave a dynamic performance as the eccentric Willy Wonka, easily entertaining with his enthusiasm and startling mood swings. Tyler Kirby’s slight hobble, wide eyes, and croaky voice culminated in a wonderfully consistent and believable portrayal of vibrant Grandpa Joe. Adam White was articulate and infinitely likable as plucky, patient Charlie.

An engaging ensemble of misbehaving Golden Ticket holders added comedy to the mix. Spoiled, hip-popping brat Veruca Salt (Claire Seely), abrasive, gum-chewing Violet Beauregard (Katie Bell), impatient television enthusiast Mike Teavee (Mo Ziegler), and gluttonous Augustus Gloop (Connor Keirce) all jockeyed amusingly for Wonka’s attentions before meeting their sticky ends. Alana Bowen had a particularly enjoyable cameo as Mrs. Gloop, hysterically wielding a purse after her son’s sudden dip into Wonka’s Chocolate River.

One of the liveliest aspects of Briar Woods’ production was the chorus of technicolored Oompa-Loompas, comprised of Brad Kimball, Addie Schafer, Matt Vespestad, and Britt Nichols. Squeaky voices, energized chanting, and playful choreography made their mid-show interludes enchanting as they tumbled and rapped to techno rhythms.

Colorful costumes by Asma Naqvi accentuated each character’s class and quirks. Renny Cullen‘s lighting design illuminated each room of the factory in unique tones and shapes, and a nearly invisible crew moved set pieces efficiently. A marvel of imaginative effects allowed doors to fly across the stage during a high-speed boat ride and characters to be blown into blueberries and sucked up pipes. The wealth of visible wonders compensated for the occasional dip in energy.

With saccharine imagination and fun-filled fantasy, Briar Woods provided a delighted audience with the Golden Ticket to a satisfying, crave-worthy performance.

by Emily O’Connell of Bishop Ireton High School

Tagged as:

This article can be linked to as:

is a program which was founded in 1999, for the purpose of celebrating high school theater arts and providing a learning opportunity for theater and journalism students. You can learn more at

Comments are closed.