Mainstage kicks off children's program with Wonka play

Mar. 6—ANDERSON — Willy Wonka, the world-renowned chocolatier, has invited five children to his factory. How will they handle it?

Audiences will find out March 8-9 at Mainstage Theatre when "Willy Wonka Kids" hits the stage.

The play follows Charlie Bucket, Augustus Gloop, Veruca Salt and others as they explore the factory while getting into mischief.

These characters are only five of the 41 children in grades K-8 participating in the show. Schools such as Pendleton, Daleville and Anderson are among those represented.

The play has been described as a "condensed" version of the Roald Dahl classic. The entire program should last about one hour.

Shortened duration doesn't equal a shortage of work needed to put the show together. It's been all hands on deck for the kids and their adult supervisors.

"It's their (the children's) show, it's their baby," Gretchen Stapleton, co-director of "Willy Wonka Kids," said.

Wonka Kids is also part of an effort to establish youth programming at Mainstage Theatre.

Establishing a Youth Education Committee was the first step. It's first goal was to offer classes and/or workshops before exploring the idea of a youth show, according to Kayla Cange, co-director of "Willy Wonka Kids."

The workshops have allowed youths to explore different aspects of theatre, including lighting and costuming.

"Theatre is more than acting and being on stage," Stapleton said.

Such exploration allows everyone to have a role without being on stage because not everyone is made for it. One member spends his time learning how to run the tech boards.

The idea is to get children interested in theatre whatever their niche may be.

Follow Caleb Amick on Twitter @AmickCaleb. Contact him at or 765-648-4254.