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 Pierce Middle School seventh grader Alex Cline portrays Charlie Bucket in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” Jan. 24-25.

Pierce Middle School seventh grader Alex Cline portrays Charlie Bucket in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” Jan. 24-25.

Photo by Deb Jacques


‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ is ‘golden’

By: Maria Allard | Grosse Pointe Times | Published January 21, 2020

 The Oompa Loompas work at Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

The Oompa Loompas work at Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

Photo by Deb Jacques

 Pierce eighth grader Jet Miller, left, has taken on the role of Willy Wonka in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” while sixth grader Sage Suson was cast as television fanatic Mike Teavee.

Pierce eighth grader Jet Miller, left, has taken on the role of Willy Wonka in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” while sixth grader Sage Suson was cast as television fanatic Mike Teavee.

Photo by Deb Jacques

GROSSE POINTE PARK — It’s a classic story with unforgettable characters, plenty of life lessons and lots of candy to satisfy a sweet tooth.

Pierce Middle School will present the play “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” on the school stage at 7 p.m. Jan. 24 and 1 p.m. Jan. 25. Tickets cost $8 for adults, and $6 for students and senior citizens. Tickets will be sold at the door. The box office will open one hour before showtime.

Gene Wilder perfected the role of Willy Wonka in the 1971 film “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” A remake titled “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” starring Johnny Depp as Wonka, was released in 2005.

Pierce broadcast journalism, drama and computer skills teacher Michelle Stackpoole is directing the show. She decided last spring to bring “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” to the stage.

“I thought it would be something fun to draw kids out to audition,” Stackpoole said. “My version is more the classic of the original movie.”

“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” is a children’s play by Richard R. George adapted from the book by Roald Dahl. It tells the story of Charlie Bucket, a young boy who lives with his financially struggling family, including his grandparents. Although the family has fallen on hard times, the polite and well-mannered Bucket stays positive through it all.

As the play unfolds, excitement fills the town where Bucket lives when the reclusive Willy Wonka decides to reopen the famous chocolate factory he owns. Five lucky winners who find golden tickets inside of Wonka Bars will be able to spend a day privately touring the acclaimed enterprise with Wonka himself.

Bucket is one of the winners, along with Augustus Gloop, Veruca Salt, Violet Beauregarde and Mike Teavee — none of whom is nearly as sweet as Bucket. Each child can bring one adult on the factory visit, but the tour doesn’t turn out so well for much of the group.

The Pierce students have practiced for weeks and are ready to perform among colorful stage sets and singing Oompa Loompas. Seventh grader Alex Cline was cast in the role of Charlie Bucket.

“He’s nice. He doesn’t have anything, but he’s always happy,” said Cline, a fan of the Wilder movie. “You act humble because that’s what he is.”

Putting on a play is “a lot of work,” Cline said, but he enjoys the “pure imagination” of being onstage. He also loves the final scene in the play.

In his purple overcoat, plum-colored hat and signature boots, eighth grader Jet Miller transforms himself into Willy Wonka.

“He’s very unpredictable,” said Miller, whose favorite scene is the boat scene. Miller said that at times Wonka’s voice is gentle when he’s talking to the other characters, but then his demeanor can become lively. “I just need to be the weirdest possible version I can be to embrace (the role).  The way the story is told is different than the movie. I hope it turns out good. Please come and see our show.”

Onstage, eighth grader Cecile Walsh is the gum-chewing Violet Beauregarde.

“The only thing she is interested in is her gum. She is never without it,” Walsh said. “It probably isn’t very healthy. Her whole personality is based around gum. That’s who she is.”

The one lesson Walsh takes away from the play is, “If you’re a good person, good things will happen.”

The character of the spoiled Veruca Salt is portrayed by sixth grader Lyla Hampton.

“She’s greedy, selfish and a mean kid,” Hampton said. “Her parents give her whatever she wants. If they don’t, she will scream. She doesn’t take ‘no’ for an answer.”

Hampton said playing the role is “fun because you can yell and not get yelled at. You can be more free.” She’s also grateful for the new friends she has made in theater.

Sixth grader Sage Suson brings Mike Teavee to life onstage.

“He’s addicted to TV and he does not want to stop,” Suson said. “He’s obsessed with cowboys and gangsters. He just sits at the TV. He worships it.”

While Teavee is addicted to television, it’s Augustus Gloop, played by sixth grader Isaac Brenner, who can’t get enough chocolate into his diet.

“He’s addicted to food, especially chocolate,” Brenner said. “Chocolate is all he really cares about. That’s all he wants. Nothing else.”

Seventh grader Jolina Huchingson and eighth grader Jane Maxwell help tell of the story as show narrators. They’ll be easy to spot: Just look for the characters with the Gobstoppers, gumdrops and lollipops on their heads.

Pierce Middle School is located at 15430 Kercheval Ave. in Grosse Pointe Park.