“Everything here is edible; even I… am edible!” declared Mr. Willy Wonka as he introduced the five lucky children to The Chocolate Room in his chocolate factory.
The extraordinary and mindblowing English Drama Night held on 5 May 2017 was performed by the VJC English Drama Club. Mr Willy Wonka’s intriguing humour, the amazingly detailed props and the funky makeup the actors had put on all made the production one that would definitely stay in the audience’s minds for a long time to come.
As the audience stepping into the Performance Theatre, one would feel as though they had been teleported into another fantasy world. Colourful props lined the stage and the front of the stage was covered with a plethora of candy bars.
Even before the show started, everyone was already hyped up. For many of the audience members, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was a much beloved book they would associate with their childhood, and indeed, for the remainder of the play, it would be as though the wacky and whimsical characters had leapt out of the book and onto the stage. Before the play commenced, it was announced that there were five Golden Tickets hidden under the seats for the audience to find, tickets they could use to exchange for chocolate. When this was announced, the entire Performance Theatre erupted into chaos. Everyone was frantically searching every nook and cranny of their seats, even looking under other’s seats, in hope of a tiny glimpse of gold. Shouts of glee then erupted in various parts of the PT as some lucky people got hold of the Golden Tickets and rushed out to get the free chocolate.
Eventually the lights dimmed, and a hush fell over the Performance Theatre as the play started. The audience were first introduced to Mr Willy Wonka himself (Derek Lee). While lively, upbeat music played in the background, Mr Willy Wonka exuberantly announced the competition to find the five Golden Tickets, hidden within an ordinary bar of chocolate. This was followed by the introduction of the other members of the main cast, Charlie (Amir Zubir), Violet (Rayna Kway), Augustus (Garrett Rajkumar), Mike (Luke Lee) and Veruca (Megan Chor). Even this early in the play, it was evident that the actors were immersed in their roles as they stayed fully in character.
Mr Willy Wonka first brought the five lucky children to the Chocolate Room. Out of a sudden, a long, brown cloth rippled across the stage. The brown cloth across the stage creatively portrayed the Chocolate River, with backstage crew frantically lifting it in a wave-like motion to mimic actual rivers!
Just as Mr Willy Wonka exclaimed “we even have a Chocolate Waterfall!”. Another enormous, five-metre wide brown cloth was cascaded from the ceiling above and covered the entire back of the performing stage, with the mere wave of his hand. It really resembled a chocolate waterfall gushing down on the spot. This spectacular sight was met with gasps and thunderous applause. Another highlight would definitely have been when Augustus fell into the Chocolate River, with a water-splashing sound effect even accompanying him. While Augustus delightedly gobbles up the delicious ‘chocolate’ in the Chocolate River, the reality was him entangling himself in the brown cloth and rolling around, which was truly a sight to behold. The icing on the cake came when Augustus shouted, “Help! I’m drowning in a chocolate river!”, and almost immediately realised: “I’m drowning in…chocolate?” Instead of letting himself be pulled out of the river, he was rolled up and away by Oompa Loompas, eliciting a wave of laughter.
As the cast was moving offstage, Charlie sighed, “Grandpa, I want a chocolate river too,” prompting his grandfather’s wry reply of “But, we don’t even have a bathtub, Charlie,” evoking chuckles from the amused audience.
The next scene was trivial in the book, yet the Drama Club decided to tweak it slightly and diverge the plot from there. It was an interesting twist we had not been aware of previously, and made the audience sit up with rapt attention as we wondered how this change would have repercussions throughout the remainder of the performance. But let’s leave that for later. Despite that small yet significant change, the next few scenes appeared just as they were in the book, with the elimination of the other children in the competition for the special prize.
It was very entertaining to watch Violet “bloat up” after eating the three-course-meal chewing gum she had been warned not to. She had rolled towards the side of the hall, off-stage. Then a large ball covered with purple cloth, with the actress’ terrified face stuck on it, was rolled out to everyone’s amazement.
Everyone’s favourite pampered princess Veruca Salt proved to be a “bad nut” and was carried off by angry squirrels after she had tried to grab one as a pet, as she only owned “one pony and two dogs and four cats and six bunny rabbits and two parakeets and three canaries and a green parrot and a turtle, and a silly old hamster!”
Talk about perspective.
Last but certainly not least, Mike Teavee, who had shown his irritation with Wonka consistently throughout the show (the latter often evading his questions by telling him to “speak up!”) would scoff at Wonka’s “narrow-mindedness”, using ground-breaking technology to teleport chocolate through TV screens instead of developing teleportation for humans, something that would lead to his downfall when he tried to teleport himself through the TV screen, and wound up as a midget, shown onstage as a sort of “yo-yo” like object.
Now for the trivial yet tweaked scene, mentioned earlier. All members of the audience familiar with the book know that Charlie won in the end, and hence took over the Chocolate Factory without a hitch.
Yet, in this play, Charlie and Grandpa Joe did do something wrong and were almost disqualified in the end because of it. In that scene, Charlie and Grandpa Joe chose to drink some “Fizzy Drinks” that they had not been allowed to, in essence stealing the drinks.
This then led to a heated, intense exchange between Grandpa Joe and Wonka, after Wonka disqualified Charlie for his misdeed.
Before leaving, however, Charlie gave the Gobstopper back to Mr Willy Wonka, as he had previously promised not to show the Gobstopper to anyone else, before walking offstage dejected and crestfallen. Wonka stood there silently, holding the Gobstopper, before quietly saying “So shines a good deed in a weary world.” Then, revealing that it had been a test, he allowed Charlie to return and run the factory!
The show ended with all the cast members performing a few sets of synchronised dancing with the pre-show music coming on again. The vice-chair and chairman of Drama Club gave the concluding address and thanked everyone who made this show a success. They also called for Victorians to give the younger guests in the audience priority to grab the candies scotch-taped on the front of the stage. Following this announcement, the children rushed down towards the stage to grab the candy bars on the stage.
Sameera Zeehan, a J1 who played an Oompa-Loompa in the production, said that the drama production was ‘wonderful as all the actors embraced their characters and put in their best into playing the characters’ and that personally for her, ‘the best part of the production was being an oompa loompa and sharing beautiful memories with [her] Oompa Loompa squad.’ She also added that ‘every single drama member has no doubt grown as individuals and as a CCA, learning from [their] mistakes and taking every failure as a step toward success’.
No performance would be as memorable or dazzling without the effort put into creating the set and making the book come alive. Chua Yi Ling, the drummer in the “Oompa Loompa squad”, also gave us insights into how challenging the process of setting up the show would be. “As the props like lollipops are really heavy, some of the challenges include finding suitable material to make it such that it looks realistic and yet light enough for dancing. Due to time limits, we even had to come back during weekends to finish the props but the team spirit is there so the prop making process was really fun.”
Revan, who acted as Grandpa Joe, felt that all the hard work they had put in had truly paid off and they felt elated now.
Garrett felt that the performance was great, because “all of us [them] pulled through in the end, the whole club managed to pull off a good show together.” He thanked the teachers as well as members of the Art Club for their help in creating the props and setting up such an “amazing and colourful show”. He also mentioned how “we [they] learnt a lot about acting and stage awareness as well, which was really useful for helping the J1s put on even better and bigger shows in the future (look out for SNL!)”
Finally, as if to echo the sentiments provided previously, a fellow audience member commented that the whole show was ‘really amazing’ and that it could ‘entertain both the adults and children alike’.
To say that English Drama Night didn’t disappoint would certainly be a huge understatement. The hard work put in by the teachers and the club members themselves were evident throughout the show and could be seen and were very much appreciated by the audience. Safe to say, it surpassed many of the audience’s expectations and it was truly a wondrous experience. This particular Drama Night would definitely raise the bar for future internal school events and the upcoming Drama Night in July!
Isabel Kua, 17A14
Rachel Lim, 17S31
Lim Xiao Hui, 17S33
Lois Kok, 17S62
Shannon Pei, 16A12