Cedar Street Summer Theater Camp will present Roald Dahl’s “Willy Wonka Jr.” July 12-14, at the Antelope Valley College Performing Arts Theatre.

The three-week camp is a pilot collaboration between Cedar Street Theatre and AVC Performing Arts Theatre, 3041 West Ave. K.

“Willy Wonka Jr.” is a one-act “junior” version of Dahl’s beloved fantastical tale, featuring a cast of 25 actors ages 8-17.

“It has a lot of favorite songs from the movie,” Director Anthony Langford said.

Those include “Pure Imagination,” “Candy Man” and “I Want It Now” from the 1971 Gene Wilder film, plus new songs added for the stage production.

A typical community theater production gets three months of rehearsals. The summer theater camp production came together in three weeks.

“From a director’s standpoint, you have to think about it pretty different when you have three weeks, compared to three months, because it’s literally using every second,” he said.

In addition to directing, Langford also choreographed the show and served as stage manager.

Actor McKenna Smith, 11, plays Charlie.

“I read the book and I saw both the movies,” she said. “I just knew that some of my friends were doing it so I wanted to try out.”

Smith auditioned for Charlie but would have taken any role she got.

“It seemed like a fun role to play,” she said.

Ryan Mendoza, 15, is a community theater veteran. He plays Willy Wonka.

“I kind of joined this play, one, to help be a good example for the younger actors,” he said.

Mendoza also  wanted to get more experience on the stage in anticipation of a professional career. He most recently played Jetsam in Palmdale Repertory Theatre’s production of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid.”

Actor Sean Laguna, 14, plays Grandpa Joe.

“I’ve been acting since I was like 8, but I want to do everything,” he said. “So I want to do theater to be quick on my feet.”

This year’s summer theater camp is a big step up from last year’s Cedar Street program.

Last year, the smaller two-week program took place in Cedar Street Theatre’s rehearsal barn. There was one performance of monologues and scenes inside Eastside High School’s Performing Arts Theater.

This year’s program spent all three weeks inside AVC Performing Arts Theatre.

“They’ve been able to practice on the stage,” Langford said. “It’s been a really good experience for the kids.”

The goal with the summer theater camp is to introduce a new generation to community theater. The students learned about different aspects of theater through the three weeks.

“We’re thrilled to be partnering with AVC,” Jill McGrady, vice president of Cedar Street Theatre’s Board of Directors said. “We feel like it’s a service for the community that if you love theater, you want the next generation to learn about it.”

AVC Performing Arts Theatre Manager Michael White said he was the product of a summer theater workshop.

“It turned my life around,” he said. “When I fell in love with the theater, I found I didn’t have enough time to get in trouble anymore. I was too busy working in the theater, having a ball. I thought that would be a great thing if we could do that here.”

White, who said he was mandated with trying to make the facility available to the community, found an ideal partner in Cedar Street Theatre.

“The good people from Cedar Street are probably among the most pleasant, delightful and wonderful people with whom to work, I’ve eve encountered,” he said. “Their obvious devotion to the young people is readily evident.”

To purchase tickets for $15, visit http://tickets.avc.edu

jdrake@avpress

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