Willy Wonka, Jr. showcases student talent

Frazier sixth grader Gavin Miller performs as Willy Wonka during a Feb. 28 rehearsal at Mission Theatre. Shane Gibson photos
Frazier sixth grader Gavin Miller performs as Willy Wonka during a Feb. 28 rehearsal at Mission Theatre. Shane Gibson photos

“Think Positive” is the reverberating message for the ongoing performances of Willy Wonka, Jr., produced by CAST Academy, at Mission Theatre until May 13.

Each of Fallbrook’s elementary schools will be showcasing their talents during their two-day performance weekend. Frazier Elementary kicked off the series on March 3 and 4 followed by Gold Cast, Live Oak Elementary, La Paloma Elementary, Fallbrook Street School, and Maie Ellis Elementary.

Willy Wonka, Jr. is the story about Charlie Bucket, a poor but optimistic kid who never has the money to enjoy candy like  the other kids until he  wins a golden ticket to visit the Willy Wonka Chocolate factory, and how it changes his life.

Willy Wonka, Jr. is the children’s version of the book by Roald Dahl of Wales, U. K., Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Released in 1971 as Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory starring Gene Wilder, the film is considered a classic.

Each of the elementary school productions has about 40 students between the ages of 8 and 13 in seven separate productions. Usually there are only six shows but this year Live Oak Elementary had 80 students wanting to perform.

While observing a rehearsal, chaos magically turns into choreography.  Imagine seven separate rehearsals at six different locations in the same few weeks. Yet, all went remarkably well. It was a miracle.

In the true spirit of the theater, co-director Jennifer Craw said “every cast member has at least one line.”

Frazier Elementary fifth grader Phoenix Pongun, plays the role of Charlie Bucket in Willy Wonka with his peers during a rehearsal at Mission Theatre.
Frazier Elementary sixth grader Phoenix Pongun, plays the role of Charlie Bucket in Willy Wonka with his peers during a rehearsal at Mission Theatre.


This colossal undertaking is accomplished by dedicated professionals, Jennifer Hornsveld Craw, Mary Fry, Patricia Hornsveld and Oscar Escobedo (who will soon depart to be a full-time college student).  Additional support is given by instructors Kyle Craw, Julie Ann Guy, Milan Magana, Monica Rumpf, Becky Walters and Catherine Walters.

Theater support staff includes scenery painted by Mary Fry, set construction by Brian Barry, set design by Oscar Escobedo, light design by Curtis Mueller, sound by Kyle Craw, box office by Kristena Hill and Josanna Nelson and the playbills designed by Angie Sinclair, with special support from Joe Kniseley, Leslie Pilling, the Michael Neal family, and the backstage crew headed by Oscar and his teen minions.

It was surprising to note that most of the students have participated in multiple productions in past years including “Annie” and “Seussical – The Musical”.

“Each show helps the performers to develop their individual strengths,” says Oscar Escobedo (co-director of Willy Wonka Jr.) “and no show is better than any other.” And, keep in mind, with all of the different productions, there are seven different Willy Wonka’s, seven different Charlie’s and seven duplicates of 38 players with every cast member having at least one and sometimes two costumes! It is a major undertaking.

For the past 11 years CAST Academy has contributed time, energy and talent to the children of Fallbrook. Their generosity has covered all production expenses for royalties for the words and music; they have paid for the lights, microphones, technicians, props and sets, costume design, fabric, program printing and provided the theatre rental. They  even cover costs for their staff and volunteers.

Through the personal generosity and desire to give back to the community, CAST Academy has staged over 165 children’s productions filled by local elementary students, over 165 on-stage rehearsals, over 1,300 at-school rehearsals, countless auditions and costume fittings, and numerous hours of free training to provide an arts program for community children.

This program is inspired by the words of John D Rockefeller III, “The arts are not for the privileged few, but for the many. Their place is not on the periphery of daily life, but at its center. They should function not merely as another form of entertainment but, rather, should contribute significantly to our well-being and happiness.”

CAST Academy was started by Patricia Hornsveld in 1993 as a training ground for children and adults. Offering year-round training in dance, movement, voice and acting, the school operates from Monday through Thursday from 2 to 6 p.m.

Operating under the umbrella of a 501c3 non-profit, CAST Academy and Productions survives on contributions from local businesses and citizens of Fallbrook. Donations from the community help although this production of Willy Wonka, Jr. is underwritten by the co-producers, Patty and Hank Hornsveld.

Do not miss seeing your favorite student. Each performance is held at the historic Mission Theatre at 231 North Main Street in Fallbrook. Tickets are only $8. The box office is open Monday through Thursday,  2 to 6 p.m. or purchase tickets online at www.MissionTheatre.com.

3 Responses to "Willy Wonka, Jr. showcases student talent"

  1. Lee   March 10, 2017 at 10:38 am

    Great job, kids, and thank you, to everybody involved!!!! Absolutely wonderful!

  2. Michelle Durrance   March 11, 2017 at 3:36 am

    Thank you to everyone involved Kaylie Marie Werner made me proud.

  3. Michelle Durrance   March 11, 2017 at 3:46 am

    Thank you to everyone involved. Kaylie Marie Holiday Werne made her mother proud.


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