At Carver Middle, the Candy Man can

As theatre students at Carver Middle School prepared for rehearsal last week, a pair of eighth graders pondered the appeal of this semester’s show, Willy Wonka Junior, which opens Friday, April 23.

“It’s really fun,” crew member Rachel May said. “It’s colorful and crazy and awesome.”

“It’s a lot brighter and happier than a few of the other plays we’ve done, and everyone knows what Willy Wonka is,” said Rachel Franklin, the assistant stage manager.

In a director’s note in this year’s program, drama teacher Brooke Turner said she was initially at a loss when deciding which musical to produce this year.

“I had several that I liked,” she writes, “but I really wanted to find a show with which the Carver students and Chester community could relate. I turned to my classes and clubs to find out what interested them, and we came up with ‘Willy Wonka,’ a play that was bubbling with chocolate and a story of honesty winning out over money.”

Willy Wonka Junior, which includes 18 musical numbers, has a cast of about 30 students and a sizable crew. Like Rachel May, 13, and Rachel Franklin, 13, 14-year-old Hannah Steines is working behind the scenes. As the show’s stage manager, Hannah helped block the show and take down changes during the first part of the production, she said, and now she’s backstage.

“I like being backstage, watching it from a different point of view and seeing how it builds,” Hannah said.

 “I love backstage,” Rachel May said. “Backstage is so much fun.”

Performances of Willy Wonka Junior will take place April 23 at 7 p.m. and April 24 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $6 for adults and $4 for students; children age 3 and younger get in free. Tickets will be sold at the door.

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