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Spokane Civic Theatre's "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory"

Jillian Kehne, Jerrod Phelps, Connie Mack Overstreet, Henry McNulty, Thomas Heppler, Troy Nickerson
Savanna Rothe
Spokane Public Radio
Jillian Kehne, Jerrod Phelps, Connie Mack Overstreet, Henry McNulty, Thomas Heppler and Troy Nickerson (L–R) of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" at the Spokane Civic Theatre

Cast and creatives perform songs from the regional premiere and discuss its charms

Jillian Kehne, Troy Nickerson, Connie Mack Overstreet and Jerrod Phelps joined E.J. Iannelli in the KPBX studio to give details on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The production, which is a regional premiere of the 2013 musical, opens this weekend at the Spokane Civic Theatre as the finale to its historic 75th season.

Their visit began with Overstreet (as Charlie) and Thomas Heppler (as Grandpa Joe) performing the song “Charlie, You and I” live in the SPR performance space accompanied by Henry McNulty, the show's music director, on piano.

Nickerson then talked about the show in relation to his recent work on Sweeney Todd and the Rocky Horror Show, noting that Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has its share of dark comedy too. Kehne, who's leading the show's choreography, offered some insight into the different dance numbers as well as the marionette-style puppets that are part of the Oompa Loompa costumes.

Phelps explained how he stepped into the role of Willy Wonka after originally being cast as Mr. Salt, and Overstreet discussed his character's relationship with Wonka as well as the demands of his first lead role on the Civic stage.

Kehne and Nickerson also chatted about the show's special effects and the art deco-inspired sets by Jeremy Whittington.

To close, Phelps and Overstreet returned to the SPR performance space to perform the song “Pure Imagination,” accompanied once again by McNulty.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory opens this Friday (May 26) and runs until June 18 on the Spokane Civic Theatre’s main stage. Tickets and more information are available at the theater's website or by calling (509) 325-2507.

It's also worth noting that Spokane Public Radio and the Inlander have teamed up to cover Charlie and the Chocolate Factory since its very beginning as part of a special behind-the-scenes feature.

In its June 1 issue, the Inlander will publish a photo essay that spans from early auditions all the way to opening night. On the same day that issue appears, Spokane Public Radio will broadcast a special edition of the Thursday Arts (P)review that will tell the story of the production through sound.

E.J. Iannelli is Spokane Public Radio's Arts and Music Director