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The Golden Ticket

The adventure of a lifetime for five lucky children unfolds in this theatrical version of Roald Dahl's classic children's novel, "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory."

Willy Wonka, the world's greatest and most mysterious candy maker, opens the doors of his top-secret chocolate factory to the children and, with the help of his trusty — but mischievous — Oompa Loompas, leads them through a magical labyrinth of chocolate rivers, giant lollipops and life lessons. The story's protagonist is Charlie Bucket, a kind and sincere boy who remains true-hearted while the others turn to greed and less than good behavior.

Southern Oregon University's Theatre Arts program presents this young audiences production of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," written for the stage by Richard R. George.

Performances are at 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, Feb. 21-22, Feb. 28-March 1 and March 7-8, and 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 22, and Saturdays and Sundays, March 1-2 and March 8-9, in the Center Square Theatre on the SOU campus, 1250 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland.

Director Alina Cenal was drawn to the play because of its ability to make children laugh, she said in a press release. "Dahl has a way of taking a bad character trait to the extreme, and we laugh at it. Small children are amused at the silliness of how characters disappear as a result of their greed.

"Dahl's work offers life lessons for children about the repercussions of greed and selfishness. The zany Wonka character demonstrates how creativity and positive thinking can promote productive, happy environments."

Cenal is director of Kids Acting Out-West based in Newbury Park, Calif., which she founded in 1997. It offers young performers creative performance art programs that are affordable.

She produces and directs about 20 shows a year at Kids Acting Out-West, and she's worked with poor, minority children to create shows for Los Angeles' Music Center Education Division.

This is Cenal's first opportunity to work with SOU theater arts students.

"I love to use music and dance in my directing projects," she said. "This is such a creative venue for visuals, sounds and imagination for all involved. Pre-school ages and up will enjoy this play."

The SOU cast includes Lucas Caldwell, Ryan Costello, Sierra Faulkner, Mikey Hays, Brianca Knight, Ginger Lockhart, Sarah Mitchell, Joe Murley, Stephanie Neuerburg, Ethan Niven, Courtney Reece, Shanti Ryle, Henry Steelhammer, Jeremy Vik, Robin Waisanen, Austin Weyand and Samuel Wick.

The scenic designer is James Leyson, costume designer is Heaven Reed, lighting designer is Erica Nunnelley and sound designer is Henry Korlin.

Tickets cost $21, $18 for seniors and $6 for students. Subscribers to three or more plays receive a discounted price of $17, $15 for seniors. Tickets can be purchased at the box office in the Theatre Arts Building, online at www.sou.edu/performing arts or by calling 541-552-6348.