Young Culture Vultures

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Jonathan Tabbert

AS I SAT BESIDE my eight-year-old daughter and watched the Charleston Ballet Theatre’s production of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, I thought, thank goodness there is something besides the Nutcracker geared towards her age group.

This is a wonderful production that uses the spoken story and songs recorded from the original and updated versions of the movie with choreography by Stephen Gabriel and Ashley Lazenby. The cast comprises both the senior company and younger apprentices from the school. Bright lighting design and expert costuming add to the strong dancing throughout the ranks all framed by inventive choreography.

Act I introduces us to Charlie Bucket, impressively danced by Alex Collen, who plays a good-hearted boy from a poor household who wins a golden ticket to see the great Willy Wonka and his chocolate factory. Other winners include the comic stand out Augustus Gloop danced by Steven Boston, the gum-smacking grimacing girl Violet Beauregarde shared by Callie Mathias and Emily Lamm. These are joined by the spoiled rich girl whose role is shared by Bree Holstein and Chloe Morone, and finally the T.V.-obseesed Mike Teavee danced my Hannah MacKenzie-Margulies.

The real fun starts when the winners and their parents meet the enigmatic Willy danced by a company favorite Jonathan Tabbert.  It is here that we meet the lovely and dynamic dancers of the Candy Corp as well as the brilliantly conceived and hysterical Oompa Loompa Corp. Favorite dances were “Little Willy,” “Eat it,” and “Bazooka Bubble Gum” as well as the upbeat finale “Hear it  For the Boy” and the poignant “Superman.” The 75-minute show is a great way to spend a piccolo Spoleto afternoon. Shows on Sunday June 5 are at 1 P.M. and 3 P.M.

Another fun Spoleto event to take younger ones to is Paolo Ventura-Winter Stories at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art. This artist inventiveness “comes from remembering” and plays with reality and imagination on big and small scales. Creating a miniature scene which includes circus performers or clowns, the artist photographs them and blows them up making pictures that play with your perceptions. Whimsical and intriguing, the show is worth a visit!

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It is with life as it is with art: the deeper one penetrates, the broader the view.                   
~ Johann Goethe