TURNER – Children from around central Maine are preparing their schnozberries for Friday night. That’s when the Central Maine Children’s Theater Project will present its new spring show, “Willy Wonka Junior,” a two-act adaptation of Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” the timeless story of the world-famous candy man and his quest to find an heir.

The show features music from the 1971 film, including songs “Pure Imagination,” “Golden Age of Chocolate,” “The Candy Man,” “Oompa-Loompa-Doompadee-Doo,” “There’s No Knowing,” “Chew It” and “I Want It Now!”

The CMCTP runs two shows a year and organizes a permanent children’s choir. The project’s artistic director, Rebecca Poppke, is also choral director at Lewiston High School. “The goal,” she said, “is to offer a positive, educational and professional theater experience to young actors” for any type of theater they may be a part of in the future.

The project, now in its fourth year, was established to enhance musical theater education for children in grades 3 through 9, according to Poppke. Though sponsored by MSAD 52 River Valley Adult and Community Education in Turner, it is open to all area children.

“Willy Wonka Junior” will be presented at 7 p.m. Friday, June 27, at the Leavitt Area High School auditorium. There will also be a show at 2 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $5.

“It’s great family entertainment,” said Catherine Ouellette, whose daughter, a seventh-grader, is in the performance.

The show includes children of all different ability levels, according Ouellette, who has spent the last few weeks volunteering with the program. “Some have been in CLT productions, for others this is their first experience,” she said.

The children have been busy with weekly rehearsals and after nearly two months of practice are ready to perform. “They’ve become a little professional organization,” said Ouellette.

That might be due to the professional nature of CMCTP, whose staff has experience in music or theater. Vincent Ratsavong, director of “Willy Wonka Junior,” is a theater graduate from University of the Arts in Philadelphia.

After “Wonka,” CMCTP will begin preparing for its summer show, Disney’s “Alladin Junior,” scheduled to run in early August.

For more information on CMCTP, call Ratsavong at 344-94 82 or send an e-mail to [email protected]

– by Max Mogensen


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