Sweet Family Fun at WCT’s “Willy Wonka”

Grandpa Joe (Max DeBaltzo) asks Willy Wonka (Clayton Dutton) for clarification as Charlie (George Marzich) looks on. Photo by Amy Todd

November 3, 2023
Article by Rachel Scofield

Photos by Amy Todd

There’s so much time and so little to see!! Scratch that. Reverse it! The gates to the whimsical, mysterious, Wonka Chocolate factory open today.

The Wagnalls Community Theater (WCT), is presenting a musical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic children’s book, Willy Wonka and the tickets are selling fast.

The show features a talented cast of local actors, singers, and dancers, who bring to life the whimsical world of the mysterious chocolate maker and his golden ticket contest.

The musical includes songs from the original film, including “Pure Imagination,” “The Candy Man” and “I’ve Got a Golden Ticket,” alongside a new score from the songwriters of Hairspray.

After many years shrouded in mystery, Willy Wonka (Clayton Dutton) will welcome visitors to his chocolate factory but only to those who find his golden tickets. The five children who win include destitute Charlie Bucket (George Marzich), spoiled Veruca Salt (Juliana Chianese), competitive gum chewer Violet Beauregard (Julia Paini), electronics obsessed Mike Teavee (AJ Buford) and glutenous candy consumer Augustus Gloop (Weston Rogers).

Oompa Loompas impart a morality lesson. Photo by Amy Lynn.

“Now’s your chance to experience the wonders of Wonka like never before—get ready for Oompa-Loompas, incredible inventions, the great glass elevator and more, more, more at this everlasting showstopper!,” per Broadway.com.

This is the first show that Jill Henwood has directed for Wagnalls.

“I feel like I’ve really been welcomed into the Wagnalls family, and the cast and crew have worked extremely hard for me along the way,” Henwood said. “I’ve been trying to swing rehearsals around my oldest son’s senior year of high school soccer, and they’ve worked really well with my schedule, and for that I’m truly grateful! Even though most people know the story of Willy Wonka, I feel we have some surprises and fun moments up our sleeve!”

Local theatre patrons may have enjoyed productions that Henwood directed at other venues including the Victoria Players Children’s Theatre, Liberty Union Musical Theater, Bremen Hysterical Society and Millersport Community Theatre. She is a Central Region Rep for the Ohio Community Theatre Association (OCTA) and the 2020 OCTA Spirit of Community Theatre award winner.

Tickets for the show are $15 for adults and $10 for children, students, and seniors. They can be purchased online at or at the door.

The show times are 7:30 pm on November 3, 4, 10, and 11, and 2:00 pm on November 5 and 12. The Theatre is located at 150 East Columbus Street in Lithopolis.

For more information, visit Wagnalls Community Theatre on Facebook or call (614) 908-1303.

WCT is dedicated to building a thriving community theater that is appropriate for all ages. The group’s mutual partnership with The Wagnalls Memorial enables the cast and crew to hold practices and performances in the beautiful, historic Wagnalls Auditorium. This family-based community theatre is designed to give children and adults an opportunity to learn all of the aspects of working in live theater, while providing entertaining performances for children and adults throughout the community.

The library was built in 1925 by Mabel Wagnalls Jones, the daughter of the co-founder of Funk & Wagnalls Publishing Company.