04/29/12 — Center Stage performing "Willy Wonka"

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Center Stage performing "Willy Wonka"

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on April 29, 2012 1:50 AM

A man locks himself away in a candy factory filled with little orange and green people. His only goal is to make children happy with new and fantastical candy creations.

All this makes for quite a bit of comedy as Center Stage Theatre performs "Willy Wonka" today at 3 p.m. at the Paramount Theatre.

Vincent Bridgers, Center Stage president, plays the title character, a man he sums up as very quirky.

"Willy Wonka is just the strangest character there will be," Bridgers said. "He's shut himself up in his factor and his competitors have been trying to steal his brilliant candy ideas. So he's on his own with all these orange-skinned green-haired oompa loompas from Loompa Land.

"He's kind of gotten into his own little world. I think that's what also helps him create the new and fantastic candy that he does."

The play focuses on the contest that Willy Wonka is holding to find someone to replace him at the candy factory.

"He's not really a fan of most of these children because they come in and they're obnoxious, uneducated and dishonest," Bridgers said. "He's looking for someone who has a true heart and really honest with himself who's going to be honest in candy making."

Bridgers has been working hard on his voice for the part of Wonka.

And he's trying to get rid of himself and become the candy man.

"That's one of the most difficult things to do in a play, not be you," Bridgers said. "When I'm not me on stage, it's a lot easier for me to perform. It's a lot of fun."

Bridgers said most of the songs in the production are from the Gene Wilder version of the movie. But other songs have been added, too.

"It's kind of a mix-up of all the different versions that have been out, as well as from the book," Bridgers said.

Bridgers hopes those who go to see the play will see someone who's free spirited, doesn't really care what's going on and lives in a world of imagination.

"Willy Wonka is not a business person," he said. "He's a creative spirit who's constantly trying to think of new ways to make children happy. I hope all the children in the audience will especially enjoy it."

Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for seniors.