Phoenix’s Chocolate Factory offers tasty (nutritious?) treat

March 10, 2018

When I lived on Salt Spring Island — and I have no reason to believe that things have changed in this regard: there were all kinds of adult and children’s theatre productions. This is probably one of the key reasons that ArtSpring was established.

With ArtSpring came the opportunity, of course, for budding thespians of very young ages having the experience of acting on a standard theatre stage (as opposed to one in a school auditorium or community hall which is just not quite as glamourous and without the ambiance of a professional stage).

The following is my review of one of these children’s presentation on the ‘grown up’ stage:

Gulf Islands Driftwood

Wednesday, November 24, 1999

Phoenix’s Chocolate Factory offers tasty (nutritious?) treat

by Tanya Lester

Phoenix Elementary School students do not put on a play.

They experience it.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, held last Wednesday and Thursday, is the only performance I have been to at ArtSpring in which I looked forward to the intermission even though I was enjoying the show.

Who could resist the little green Oompa-Loompas (except my cynical 12-year-old son) or the red-and-black squirrels that hung out in the nut room?

But I am getting ahead of myself.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a theatrical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s book, Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

The plot was difficult to follow at times because the nervous, excited actors occasionally talked a bit fast and forgot their lines.

As told by the storyteller, played by Ezra Gilson in a deadpan style that reminded me of Charlie Brown, I think the storyline goes something like this: A girl (not Dahl’s male character) named Charlie Bucket (Halley Gilson) and her family, which consisted…of the cutest little grandparents you could ever lay your eyes on portrayed by Roshann Cornwall, Cora Muellner, Gabriella Mitchell and Kailee Budd), are so poor they are starving with only one bed to sleep in.

The solution to the Bucket family’s problems is connected with Charlie’s ability to obtain a golden bar that serves as an entrance key into the chocolate factory.

Charlie, of course, was not the only one wanting to gain entrance. Any number of wealthy folk with their spoiled kids desired an “in”. This menage was the most wonderful display of children in grown-up’s dress-up clothes that has ever graced the ArtSpring stage.

Patrice Bowler did a fine job of being a spoiled brat extraordinaire in her role as Veruca Salt, even to the point of laying down on the stage while she kicked her hands and feet. Bowler’s timing was great.

Elsbet Krayenhoff was also very appealing as a child gum fanatic.

The story continued with the group led in a tour of the factory by none other than the owner, Willie Wonka, played by Raven Derr. For part of the tour, the spectacular group rode in a very stylish pink sort of Viking boat.

The audience went along for the ride and we got a glimpse into a fantastic chocolate factory where the pipes looked like candysticks and a river of chocolate flowed.

There were many rooms where the delicious ingredients to the making of chocolate candy were housed. These included the cream room, the whip room and, of course, the chocolate room.

This leads me back to the intermission and ArtSpring’s multi-purpose room. It was there that the Phoenix Elementary School students had on display ( as they did last spring for their Robin Hood play) the visual art they had created while exploring different aspects of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

What an experience it was to be drawn into their experience of the play!

A quilt with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory emblazoned across it and created by the students hung near the entrance. On the walls were big, bold finger paintings of the play’s characters. The tables were laden with Plasticine mounts of the sets and contraptions like the candy machines in the play’s set.

This is the way to learn and to grow. The most wonderful thing about it is that, as far as I could see, the students all had so much fun doing it.

The energy in ArtSpring was electrifying. There was something about it all that made me think of how young people throughout the century, and before, have always dressed up and staged plays for adults. Virginia Woolf would have approved.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was a tasty pre-Christmas treat.

And, oh yes, Willie Wonka invited Charlie and her family to live in the chocolate factory, alleviating their starvation.

Could this mean that chocolate is nutritious, after all?


To read more posts in this eclectic range of writings by and about Tanya Lester, go to and

Tanya’s books are Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader, Friends I Never Knew, Dreams and Tricksters as well as Women Rights/Writes. The first two titles listed can be purchased from the author or from  All of the books are available in some library systems.

Tanya has works for over two decades as a psychic counsellor specializing in tea leaf reading, tarot, psychic channeling and some mediumship, gypsy card reading, etc. She is also a reiki master and a fulltime housesitter. To make an appointment with her, text or call 250-538-0086 or email:   To find out more go to her web at or her pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s