'Family' of Plainfield High actors ready to dazzle in 'Willy Wonka'
By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Plainfield - posted Mon., Apr. 15, 2013
Plainfield High School sophomore Tom Linevitch waited his turn to take the stage during a rehearsal of “Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka” at the school on April 11. The novice actor is playing a leading role and he feels great about the opportunity. “You'd think I'd be nervous, but I'm not,” Linevitch said. Perhaps his ease comes from sharing the spotlight for six years with choir mates and two years with band members. Or perhaps it comes from the camaraderie that's built up among cast and crew since November auditions and more than three months of rehearsals.
The family atmosphere - the close-knit community that's grown up around the play with band members, stage crew, actors and ensemble - is the first thing many of the kids spoke about. Christopher Sebastian, who plays Mr. Salt, said spending three hours a day together, five days a week, has made it easy for students to get to know each other. The group has learned to put away any of the differences they may have had during the day in order to make the show good, Sebastian said.
Tyla Rudd, who plays Mrs. Gloop, said the long schedule made it easy for students to break down barriers and show their vulnerabilities. They became close as a result.
“In theater, you basically become friends with everyone,” Linevitch said. “It gives you confidence.”
At the rehearsal, Oompa Loompas moved comfortably on and off stage practicing their numbers. They were dressed in white suspenders, knickers and brown shirts, one of the more costly - and challenging - costumes featured in the play, according to JoAnn Titus. Because they all had to look alike and look good, Titus and co-costumer Mary Jane Lussier opted to purchase the outfits, she said. Their wigs and orange faces will transform the actors even more, come opening night.
Aidan LaLiberte was more demurely dressed as Willy Wonka in khaki slacks and long mauve jacket. LaLiberte almost didn't try out for the play. His credits include ensemble work in “Annie” last year, stage crew stints, and work at the Bradley Playhouse in its 2004 production of “Charlotte's Web.” He's using Gene Wilder and Johnny Depp as inspiration for his own character. “I liked Wilder's take on the character,” he said about the 1971 film version of the musical. But Depp's bizarre 2005 film portrayal is also figuring in. “He's this sarcastic smart guy who knows what he wants,” LaLiberte said. “And he gets what he wants. It's powerful.”
Directors Brian Stevenson and Kevin Mariano put the performers through their paces, moving props on stage, calling on characters to play their scenes. Kasey Howard fired up the band. Mariano clapped his hands to show LaLiberte the pace he wanted, and the scene got under way.
The set promises to be as engaging a character as any, according to business manager Beth Turenne. With contributions from parents, the Technology, Consumer Science, Visual Arts and Art Department, the stage will be full of bubbles, steam, glittering lollipops, thigh-high mushrooms, and a papier-mâché mountain overflowing with chocolate lava. “When you see them up close, they don't look impressive,” Turenne said, pointing at the Styrofoam jelly beans and lollipops. “When you see them on stage, with all the glitter, they are spectacular. The set is awesome - just awesome.”
Linevitch seconded her praise. “If you're not into the acting or music, you'll be blown away by the set,” he said. “The set we have is truly amazing.” Four actors will even fly through the air for one of the scenes.
“Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka” will be performed May 2, 3 and 4 at 7 p.m. and an additional matinee May 4 at 1 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for students and seniors.