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HART Keeps Outdoor Theatre Alive In Huntington

Reported by: Send eMail Kennie Bass
Videographer: Sean Delancey
Reported: Jul. 11, 2014 6:45 PM EDT
Updated: Jul. 11, 2014 7:05 PM EDT

Eyewitness News Photo

Huntington , Cabell County , West Virginia

The golden age of chocolate is helping HART kick off its adventures in Ritter Park. The newly-created company is celebrating its inaugural season by keeping outdoor theater in the river city alive. "Willy Wonka: The Musical" is the group's second production of the summer.

"We wanted to do a show that works on a couple of different levels and "Willy Wonka" works on a lot of different levels," Clint McElroy (The Candyman) said. "Kids are going to love it because, 'Awww, Oompa-Loompas and there's candy.' But adults love the humor about it, just like the movies."

Stage veteran Ryan Hardiman stars as Wonka, a strange, reclusive candy-maker who concocts a scheme to find a successor by sending golden tickets all over the world, hidden in the wrappers of five Wonka chocolate bars.

Five children and their parents win a tour of Wonka's famous factory, but only one may take up Wonka's mantle, if they are found to be worthy.

"Willy Wonka is one of the most iconic characters in history," Hardiman said. "People know this story whether they've read the book or seen one of the two film adaptations. I'm honestly just trying to do my own thing with it. I'm trying not to do, well the outfit is a little more Gene Wilder, I guess, but the attitude as written in the play is what you really have to go with."

With familiar songs "Pure Imagination" and "The Candyman" joined by new numbers created for the musical, the stage version closely follows the familiar book and movie plotlines.

Surrounded by his diminutive Oompa-Loompa assistants, Wonka watches the children as they navigate his factory, testing them to reveal their inner character.

"There are so many talented people in the tri-state area," Rileigh Smirl (Violet Beauregarde) said. "Just having everyone come and be a part of this, I mean it's great for people to watch. It's great for people to be a part of."

Huntington Area Regional Theatre (HART) continues its inaugural season with its second production, "Willy Wonka - The Musical!".

Directed by Mary and Tommy Smirl.
Musical Direction by Mark Smith.
Choreography by Sarah Hayes.

July 11, 12, 13, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 27 at Ritter Park Amphitheater.

Tickets are $15, $20 for reserved and $10 for chilĀ­dren. There are also group prices at the Greater Huntington Park and Recreation District office at Heritage Station, the Ritter Park Tennis Center, as well as online at www.ghprd.org.

Tickets will also be available at the gate.

Gates open at 6:30 p.m.

Children's Preshow, "Adventures In Storyland" begins at 7:00 p.m.

"HART's Superstar Preshow" begins at 7:30 p.m.

"Willy Wonka - The Musical!" begins at 8:30 p.m.

Picnics are welcome.

Concessions will be available for purchase outside of the gates.

No alcoholic beverages may be carried in. However, you may buy alcoholic beverages at the concession stand.

Willy Wonka - Ryan Hardiman
Charlie Bucket - Nick Wood
Grandpa Joe - Tommy Smirl
The Candyman - Clint McElroy
Mrs. Bucket - Andrea Parkins
Mr. Bucket - Trent Wilcoxen
Phinney Trout - Sarena Johnson
Grandma Josephine - Linda Lemaster
Grandpa George - Dave Owens
Grandma Georgina - Sarah Hagan
Augustus Gloop - Levi Kelley
Mrs. Gloop - Megan Haynes
Veruca Salt - Erica Clonch
Mr. Salt - Scott Black
Violet Beauregarde - Rileigh Smirl
Mrs. Beauregarde - Ashley Taylor
Mike Teavee - Luke Hagley
Mrs. Teavee - Chrissy Wheeler
James - Ethan Niebergall
Matilda - Madison Manns
Sophie - Hannah Spurlock
Danny - Will Meadows
Alfie - Nathaniel Fornash
Prudence - Laura Clagg
Regina - Holly Price
Gretchen - Raven McClintock
Harry - Ethan Hess

As well as a gaggle of Oompa Loompas, Cooks, and Squirrels!

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