Music teacher Sven Heyde refers to himself as “just the sound guy” for the upcoming McKim production of Willy Wonka Jr.
Ask any of the students involved and they will tell you he’s a lot more than that, but Heyde has stepped back on this production and turned it over to the students themselves.
And the students are taking the responsibility seriously. Directing the show is Grade 11 student Clara Macleod, a veteran of previous Selkirk/McKim productions such as the Sound of Music and Les Miserable. She will also have a role in the upcoming Legally Blond production.
But right now she’s focused on getting the most out of the young cast of Willy Wonka Jr., which opens Wednesday night at McKim Theatre in Kimberley.
It helps, Heyde says, that many of those young actors are veterans of other musicals produced in Kimberley in the last few years.
“It’s going to be a really good show. She has some really, really strong actors. There are kids who have been doing Summer Theatre and musicals for the past few years. It’s so neat to be working with mini-professionals.”
This is the first time directing for Clara.
“It’s just an idea that Mr. Heyde brought about last spring,” she said. “I thought it would be fun.”
It has been that and a whole lot more, she says.
“It’s helped me improve my own singing and acting techniques,” she said. “It’s helped with my confidence. I always tell them, don’t be afraid of letting go. I can’t tell them that without doing it myself.
“But it’s also taught me how much work directing is.”
Clara says that at first the really young students were a bit difficult to handle — the show has roles for students from Lindsay Park and Marysville elementary schools as well as McKim students.
But as the rehearsals have gone on, she finds the younger students looking to the older ones as role models, and things are going smoothly.
When Clara talked to the Bulletinw last Thursday, it was just under a week to opening night and she felt the students would be ready.
“I’m feeling pretty good,” she said. “I think it’s a lot better than I thought it would be at this point.”
As to what the audience can look forward to, Clara says colourful sets, some wonderful special effects and great music.
“There are some really catchy songs. Think Positive is a really feed good song, all about feeling happy. These kids are singing in tow and three part harmony. That’s pretty crazy.”
They young actors themselves are as excited as can be. The Bulletin spoke to Clayton Serediuk (Augustus Gloop), Emory Hoko (Violet Beauregard), Declan Armstrong (Charlie Bucket) and Dryden Dhami (Mike TV). Willy Wonka is played by Gwen Davies.
“I really wanted to be in a school musical,” said Clayton. “When I heard it was Willy Wonka, I was really excited.”
Emory says that even though they have been rehearsing for 11 weeks, three times a week, she doesn’t get tired of it. Her favourite part is the singing.
“I love to sing,” she said.
Declan is especially excited because he will actually be flying in his role as Charlie Bucket, with a pulley system which will lift him up.
“I’m flying. I really like it. I haven’t actually done it yet because we tried it once and I was too skinny for the harness. But I’m sure I’ll be able to fly.”
Dryden also enjoys the physical acting side of it and is looking forward to some of his stunts.
All the students and their director agree that those who attend will not be disappointed.
Willy Wonka Jr. will be performed at McKim Theatre on December 11, 12, and 13 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available at the McKim office and at the door and are $5 for students, and $8 for adults.