Rehearsals underway for fall musical

Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Amanda Layer (left), as Willy Wonka, and Hadleigh Watson (right), as Charlie Bucket, will be heading an ensemble cast in the RHS Drama Department's fall production of "Willy Wonka, Jr." (Democrat photo/Ryan Rogers)

Audiences soon will be given a taste of the "sweet life" when the Rector High School Drama Department presents its annual fall musical, "Willy Wonka Jr."

The play tells the story of a young boy named Charlie Bucket, played by Hadleigh Watson. Though Charlie's family is very poor, he maintains a positive outlook on life and treasures the truly important parts of life.

Joining Charlie on this beloved ride through a world which combines elements of fantasy with a charm and sentiment based in reality is a wonderful collection of characters, including the enigmatic and eponymous Willy Wonka, played by Amanda Layer.

The two performers have been hard at work learning their lines, songs and dance moves which will be on display when the production is made available to classmates Nov. 4-7 and the entire community at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 8.

While both Layer and Watson have been a part of many productions, "Willy Wonka Jr." has its own unique challenges.

"I have to show so many different facets and sides of the character," Layer says of Wonka, who also takes on the role of the reporter and candyman during the play. "I really hoped to be Willy Wonka because it is a challenging role. At the same time, it's a character that's a lot of fun to portray."

Layer, the 17-year-old daughter of Cam and Sherry Cate and Robert and Regina Layer, is no stranger to Rector audiences. The senior has been in nine musicals since the fourth grade. She has earned numerous awards for her talents and performances.

In fact, she is considering using her theatre background in the professional field. By combining her experience with drama with future studies in psychology, she hopes to have a career in drama therapy. This relatively new field combines elements of dramatics, such role play, with therapy in an effort to help those dealing with emotional distress in a range of areas.

"I know I could use my training here in theatre in some capacity later on," Layer said. "It's very hard to have an acting career, but if you can combine that love with another field, then you're more likely to succeed."

Watson will be making her biggest splash yet on the stage as the likable Charlie. A veteran of the stage since first grade, the seventh grader has been a part of several performances, including the annual summer Stageworks event in which young performers are educated about the inner workings of the theatre.

"I like to sing, dance and do all the things involved with drama," said the 12-year-old daughter of Mark and Jodie Watson. "Drama has always interested me, and I've wanted to be a part of it as long as I can remember. I still remember all the dances we've learned in Stageworks. Each year I always wanted to be like the seniors and do the big parts. Now, I'm getting the chance."

Both Watson and Layer are taking additional voice lessons from choir director Judy Hargrave in preparation for the show's numerous songs. They also are learning several dance routines along with the play's large cast of performers of all ages.

"It's all just so much fun," Watson said. "We're all enjoying it and having a great time. It's a lot of work, but it's something we all like and want to do."

"Everyone here loves what they do," Layer said. "Otherwise, we wouldn't spend so much time on rehearsals twice a day three times a week and even on weekends. It's a lot of fun, but it requires a lot of commitment, too."

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: