Longmeadow students take the stage in 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory'
By Kaitlyn Schroyer
LONGMEADOW - Eighteen years ago, the first cast of Children's Summer Theater took the spotlight with a production of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory."
Today, directors Chuck and Marilyn Ingulli are still committed to the program. This year's production of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" is set to be just as spectacular as the first.
"We just think it gives kids a great opportunity to be on stage and develop public speaking," Marilyn said about the program.
This year's cast consists of 27 students who are entering grades five through nine in the fall. The students cannot stop coming back year after year.
"This is my fifth and last year," Sarah Etkin, who will be playing Willy Wonka, said. "It's like a big family. Everyone's nice and have the same interest in acting. It's sad that it's my last year, but I'm excited to go on and be a teacher's assistant."
Not only have the Ingullis been directing Children's Summer Theater through the Longmeadow Summer Enrichment Program for 18 years, they also moved to New Hampshire a few years back. Because of their immense dedication to the program, they drive an hour and 15 minutes to the Longmeadow High School daily during the month of July.
In the past, the Ingullis have put on productions of "Annie," "Peter Pan," "How to Eat Like a Child," "The Wizard of Oz," "The Hobbit" and more.
"Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" is based on the book by Roald Dahl. It tells the story of a young boy named Charlie Bucket who wins the opportunity to tour the chocolate factory of the eccentric Willy Wonka.
"It's fun doing it together as a team," Chuck said. "We form connections with the students."
The program is not all returning students. New students are happily welcomed.
"They make you feel really comfortable," Mary Miller, a new student with the program, who will be playing an Oompa Loompa, commented. "When I first got here, there were lots of funny jokes and everyone was really nice."
"Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" will be performed July 29 and 30 at 7:30 p.m. in the Longmeadow High School Auditorium. Tickets are free and everyone is welcome.