The Signal Mountain Playhouse is continuing the "sugar buzz" it began last summer with "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang," much of which takes place in a candy factory, with its current summer production, "Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka." Showings will be at the Playhouse amphitheater Fridays and Saturdays, July 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, 22, 28 and 29 at 8 p.m.
Playing chocolate factory owner Willy Wonka is WRCB-TV Channel 3 news anchor Greg Glover. Zachary Huseman is playing the other leading role, that of Charlie Bucket, a poor boy who finds a golden ticket granting him a coveted visit to Wonka's factory.
Audience members will recognize many of the actors filling the other roles from previous Playhouse productions, said Anne Rittenberry, Playhouse spokeswoman.
"It's fun to have Greg Glover as Willy Wonka," she said. "I can't think of a better actor locally to bring Willy Wonka's 'world of imagination' to our audiences."
Another fun detail about the cast is that the real parents of two of the characters are playing their fictitious parents in the show, said Rittenberry. Steve Meller, father of Maggie Meller who plays Veruca Salt, is Mr. Salt; and Shandra Burnett, mother of Molly Burnett who plays Violet Beauregarde, is Mrs. Beauregarde.
One reason "Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka" was chosen for this summer's production is the large number of roles for children — something the selection committee always strives for, Rittenberry said, adding that is why the Playhouse often recycles other productions with many children's roles, such as "Annie" and "Wizard of Oz."
"Our goal is, as always, to give the most kids and adults as possible the opportunity to be in our shows," she said.
For the past 45 years, Playhouse volunteers have handled nearly every aspect of each production: selecting the play, building the sets, rehearsing, making costumes, taking everything down and cleaning up. The only paid participants are the director, choreographer, music director and orchestra conductor, and Rittenberry said the Playhouse also hires someone to spray for bugs and haul portable toilets in and out of the venue.
Jennifer Arbogast Wilson, an associate professor of music at Chattanooga State Community College, is directing this summer's production, and Grammy Award-winning composer Michael Huseman is serving as music director. Nick Hartline is conducting the Playhouse orchestra and Cristi Barr is choreographing.
Tickets are available only at the box office on the night of each showing beginning at 6 p.m., at which point attendees may begin placing their lawn chairs at the venue. Tickets are $5 for children age 12 and younger and $15 for attendees age 13 and older. The Playhouse accepts cash or checks only.
Concessions and restrooms are available on the Playhouse amphitheater grounds. Parking for attendees with disabilities is available at the Rolling Way entrance. The amphitheater is at 1104 James Blvd.
For more information, visit smph.org or the Signal Mountain Playhouse page on Facebook, or call 886-5243.