“I like to be in shows because I can act “goofy” or in ways that I can't in real life” said eighth grader River Turnbell,” Turnbell was with fellow eighth graders at a rehearsal for the Andover Players' production of the musical “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” which will be presented at the AE/MS Gym on March 29 and 30 at 7 PM.
I had the opportunity to speak with several players who were all from the eighth grade. All said that they have been in previous productions and enjoy doing theater.
Turnbell, who is playing Wonka, said that another thing he likes about doing shows with the Andover Players is that it gives him a chance to get to know younger students who are having their first experiences on stage. He enjoys the bonds which are created with other students during a production.
Fenn Davis said he likes to see the end result that comes after all the rehearsals and work involved in putting on a production. He said he finds the whole process very interesting.
“I just enjoy acting,” said Lilly Carlson. Asked if she wanted to pursue a career in acting, she said she probably would not, but judging by her enthusiasm, she probably will be involved in high school and community theater.
When asked what they like about Willy Wonka, River said that he “loves the quirkyness of his character and the show in general. Garrett Niemyer said he, too, loves the quirkyness of the show and said that it is a lot of fun. These older students also felt that this was a great show for their underclassmen to learn about acting, singing and being on stage.
“Grampa Joe” is played by Colby Jones. When asked what it was like to be playing an older person, he replied that he thought he had the acting part down, but was still working on trying to sound like an older person.
One of the great things about a theatrical production is that there is such a variety of tasks to be done, besides acting on stage. Ella Makechnie said that she was finding it fun to be part of the “tech crew.” Bryson Cate is also enjoying his role as a stage manager and running the sound system which provides the music for musical numbers.
The show is directed by Sarah Edmunds who has been a teacher at AE/MS for 6 years. One of the reasons she chose to come to Andover was the prospect of building the Andover Players. She is assisted by Alex Ager, the school's music teacher.
The Andover Players is an after school activity, and the students have been rehearsing until about 5:00 PM two to three days per week. It was impressive to see the enthusiasm of the group, and it was obvious that the older students enjoy working with the younger ones. Edmunds and Ager agree that participation in these types of activities helps the students develop skills that they will take with them in whatever career paths they pursue.
Tickets for the show are $8 and may be purchased at the door.