There’s always nerves before a performer takes the stage, but the cast of Willy Wonka Jr. certainly won’t feel unprepared before this fall’s show; many of them have been rehearsing for over a year.
The third production from the relatively new children’s performance arts theatre, the West Nipissing Dream Catchers, has been on hold since early 2020. But with little else to do during the latest stay-at-home order, rehearsing for the play (tentatively scheduled for this November 26, 27 and 28) has become a way for kids stuck at home to have some form of escape.
“It’s been a real long time that we’ve been working on the show because there’s no actual time that we can produce it in real life,” says Erica-Joe Anglehart, a 14-year-old student at École secondaire publique Nipissing Ouest. “I’m super pumped to be able to do it one day. It builds the anticipation, I guess.”
Anglehart is cast in the play’s titular role, so she has a lot of lines to memorize. But with her classes moving online as of April 19 and little else to do in her downtime, she’s already got a strong grasp on the Willy Wonka character (she plans to base her version on Johnny Depp’s portrayal in the 2005 film, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). That means this spring’s online rehearsals with the Dream Catchers is less about learning the part and more about camaraderie.
“Dream Catchers is like a family,” she describes. “I feel like everybody gets along really well – and it’s not only the plays – but it’s just a good place to get away from the stress of online school and stuff. We do many other activities and it’s just a really fun place.”
The Dream Catchers are a volunteer-run theatre first launched in 2019 by Kat Clark and her mother Patricia Morin.