A group of young campers in the annual Youth Summer Theatre Program will offer Franklin County a trip to a world of pure imagination with their performance of “Willy Wonka Jr.” Performances of the musical will be held tonight at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Lavonia Cultural Center.
LAVONIA – A group of young campers in the annual Youth Summer Theatre Program will offer Franklin County a trip to a world of pure imagination with their performance of “Willy Wonka Jr.”
Performances of the musical will be held tonight at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Lavonia Cultural Center.
The musical is the culmination of the two-week theatre program, now in its 15th year, for children ages 8-15.
This year’s Youth Summer Theatre (YST) has gone on despite dealing with the coronavirus pandemic with the help of an experienced group of actors and crew members.
Seven cast members are veteran YST participants who will be performing in their last camp show, while most members of the crew and staff are former campers.
Ethan Smith is in his third year as YST director.
Smith said that not only has procedures for the camp changed due to the coronavirus but some campers have had to miss days because of scheduling changes with other activities due to the virus.
Those changes have included some cast changes.
“Considering all the obstacles, we’re in a good spot,” Smith said Monday. “I’m proud of all of them no matter what they do.”
The role of Willy Wonka will be played by Jon Erik Tripp, who is in his fifth year at YST.
Wonka is a fun character that Tripp said he can interpret as he likes.
“The character’s crazy,” Tripp said. “Actually insane.”
The other lead, Charlie Bucket, is played by Brock Fowler, who is in his third year at YST.
Fowler said Bucket, who finds a golden ticket that allows him to tour Wonka’s candy factory, is very humble and cute.
Cast members who will be making their final appearance on the YST stage are Ashlyn Dilworth, Layla Vandiver, Erika Ivie, Bennett Jones, Gracie Tucker, Micah Witcher and Ella Grace Madden.
“It’s just been a really fun place to go since I was a little kid,” Witcher, who has participated since 2013, said.
“It’s allowed me to make a lot of friends through YST,” Tucker said. She has been involved in the program since 2015.
Vandiver was invited to the program two years ago after her sister got involved.
“It looked like fun and I started to do plays afterward,” she said.
Madden, who has been in camp since 2013, said she got involved because she always liked being on stage and performing. Performing allows her to express herself, she said.
Jones joined a couple of friends at YST in 2016 and said she enjoys the funny moments leading up to a show.
Dilworth has been in YST for the past six years. “I love being around everyone and I just love how we can put on an entire play in two weeks,” she said.
Ivie said she will remember the friends she made while participating in YST. She joined the program in 2018 and has been in each show that Smith has directed.
Franklin Community Players President Amy Burns said that it will be sad to see all those aging out of the program leaving.
The program teaches campers not just about theatre but about life and allows them to make friends, she said.
Tickets for the show are $10 with seating limited by social distancing measures needed to deal with the pandemic.
To order tickets, call Burns at 706-491-1538.
Those coming to a show should arrive early because. The waiting area will be outside because the lobby of the Cultural Center is too small to socially distance.