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willy wonka
Scott Treadway stars as Willy Wonka. Photo courtesy of Flat Rock Playhouse

Flat Rock Playhouse Presents Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka

The Playhouse’s Studio 52 Family Series kicks off its 2017 season with an impressive cast of 58 and a classic family adventure in Wonka’s delicious, magical world of Pure Imagination

The whimsical, world-famous candy man himself is back, this time in the mountains of Western North Carolina, as he takes the stage at Flat Rock Playhouse in their Studio 52 Family Series production of Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka.  Opening March 24th through April 2nd at the Flat Rock Playhouse Main Stage, this timeless family favorite will sport a “delicious stage full of amazing characters, singing, dancing and acting for the inner child in all of us, with perhaps a few parenting lessons along the way,” says Director Dave Hart.

Willy Wonka is the story of Wonka’s quest to find an heir with whom he can entrust his legendary chocolate factory and prized candy making secrets.  Willy stages a contest by hiding five golden tickets in five of his scrumptious candy bars. Whoever comes up with these tickets will win a free tour of the Wonka factory, as well as a lifetime supply of candy.  Young Charlie Bucket, who comes from a very poor but loving family, finds one of the tickets, amidst the frenzy, and is selected to tour the factory along with four other lucky children. As the true character of each child becomes clear throughout the tour of the curiously enchanted factory, the audience can have little doubt as to which has the purest heart to win.

With an impressive cast size of veteran and brand-new Vagabond players, Flat Rock Playhouse favorite Scott Treadway returns to the stage as none other than the eccentric chocolate wizard himself, Mr. Willy Wonka.  With Jack Higginbotham at his side portraying young Charlie Bucket, along with a host of Candy Man Kids, Oompa-Loompas, Townsfolk, Squirrels, and many more colorful characters, Mr. Wonka will surely have a stage full of fun on his hands in this enchanting production.

With Hart leading this cast of 58 people ranging in age from 6 to 60, this family series production brings to life the mission of the Flat Rock Playhouse Studio 52 Education Initiative as families of multiple generations work together to create inventive and entertaining live performance art.  Hart explains, “Many of our cast members are families including: a parent with multiple children, an entire family- mom, dad, and daughter, and many pairs of siblings- it’s very special and just what our Producing Artistic Director Lisa Bryant was thinking of as she created this opportunity for a family theatre experience meant for both cast and audiences.  I love having multiple generations working together and learning from each other.”

It seems that the collaboration is not solely limited to the cast, as Hart also speaks to the creative process behind the scenes. “The most exciting part of the process has been working with all of the creative designers and artists at FRP including Chris Mueller, our innovative set designer, Ashli Arnold with her remarkable costume designs, Paul Feraldi on props, Wendy Jones as our musical director, and Allison Nock bringing dance and movement to life as the Choreographer,” mentioned Hart.  CJ Barnwell and Kurt Conway are also onboard with light and sound design respectively.

A true family classic for decades, Flat Rock Playhouse’s Willy Wonka will be an adventure for all ages.  However, it is always advised that those youngest audience members be somewhat familiar with the story before seeing the show.  As in many of Dahl’s works and any dark fairy tale, there is a balance between good and evil with a few scary moments for the youngest viewers.


Willy Wonka will run from March 24th through April 2nd at the Flat Rock Playhouse Main Stage in the Village of Flat Rock. Performances Thursday and Friday evenings at 7:00PM, Saturday matinées at 1:00PM and 5:00PM, and Sunday matinées at 2:00PM.  Tickets are available for $12.50-$25 and can be purchased by calling the Playhouse Box Office at 828-693-0731, toll-free at 866-737-8008 or online at www.flatrockplayhouse.org.  Flat Rock Playhouse is located at 2661 Greenville Hwy Flat Rock, NC 28731.

Coming up this week: Classic Nashville Roadshow is playing at the Flat Rock Playhouse Main Stage (March 8th-18th) and The Music of the Rat Pack is playing at the Playhouse Downtown (March 9th-19th).

About Flat Rock Playhouse

n 1937, a group of struggling performers, led by Robroy Farquhar, organized themselves as the Vagabond Players. The Vagabonds worked in a variety of places over the course of three years, and in 1940 found themselves in the Blue Ridge region of Western North Carolina. The local and tourist community welcomed them with open arms when they presented their first summer season of plays in a 150-year-old grist mill they converted into The Old Mill Playhouse at Highland Lake. So successful was that summer, they returned in 1941. After WWII, the Vagabond Players reorganized, came back to the region and opened a playhouse in nearby Lake Summit. The Lake Summit Playhouse thrived during the post war years and soon the Vagabond Players were looking for a larger and permanent home. In 1952, the troupe of performers, and a newly formed board of directors, made an offer to buy an 8-acre lot in the Village of Flat Rock. This new home made the Vagabonds “locals” and a rented big top gave birth to Flat Rock Playhouse. As the beautiful Western Carolina region continued to grow, so did the Playhouse and in 1961, by Act of the North Carolina General Assembly, Flat Rock Playhouse was officially designated The State Theatre of North Carolina. What began as a few weeks of summer performances in 1940 is now a nine-month season of plays including Broadway musicals, comedy, drama, and theatre for young audiences. The Playhouse’s dual mission of producing the performing arts and providing education in the performing arts includes a professional series; a summer and fall college apprentice and intern program; performances and cabaret series by the Studio 52; year-round classes and workshops for students from kindergarten through adults. Flat Rock Playhouse now hosts over 98,000 patrons annually and is a significant contributor to the local economy and the Arts in North Carolina.

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