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Packed house attends play

After skipping along the yellow brick road and diving under the sea, students from Buckingham County Middle School’s drama program gave their audience a golden ticket to a fun and heartwarming rendition of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” on Tuesday.

This is the drama program’s fifth production. The program and all supplies are fully supported by fundraising and community donations.

Meredith DeLong-Maxey, who played eccentric candy maker Willy Wonka, said she had seen the two films based from Roald Dahl’s novel “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and wanted her performance to honor the beloved character.

EMILY HOLLINGSWORTH | HERALD Pictured are, from left, Karma Gaydon, Alexia Barton, Bayla Harris and Maggie Rumsey. Gaydon, Barton and Harris, who played Oompa Loompas, and Rumsey, who played Veruca Salt, frolic during rehearsals before the premiere of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” on Tuesday.

“I like to portray him in the way that I would like to see him,” said DeLong-Maxey, who also played a flying monkey in “The Wizard of Oz” and Aruba in “The Little Mermaid.”

Erica McGann, left, a Spanish teacher at Buckingham County Middle School, applies makeup to Alexia Barton. Barton and nine other middle and elementary school students performed as Oompa Loompas for Buckingham County Middle School’s production of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” on Tuesday.

DeLong-Maxey said production for “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” began in October, and the multiple responsibilities of learning lines, setting up set designs, costuming and perfecting the performance had “been hectic at times,” but she said it has also “been a lot of fun.”

“It’ll all be worth it in the end,” DeLong-Maxey said.

Middle school students were not the only ones to take to the stage. There were several elementary school students who also got to play a role in the production. Some played Oompa Loompas and others played background characters in a crowd.

Elly Abruzzo, a fourth- grader who played an Oompa Loompa, said audience members could expect a flurry of humor, wonder and heart.

“It’s kind of a mix of everything,” Abruzzo said.

A theme of the play was being optimistic, staying positive even when the going gets rough.

Samantha Scialdo, a teacher at Buckingham County Middle School, who also acts as a faculty sponsor for the drama program, said students were similarly able to excel even under the nerves that accompany the performance.

“We always have butterflies in our stomach and anxiety,” Scialdo said. “But, they always pull it off. Every year I am amazed at how much better they get.”

Dakota DeLong-Maxey, left, stands with her aunt, Linda Knight. Dakota’s sister, Meredith, played eccentric candy maker Willy Wonka.

The play included veteran performers with the drama program and newcomers.

Max Ragland, who played Mike Teavee, said this was his first show with the drama program. He said the experience, learning lines and being involved with the story, was rewarding.

“I made a lot of new friends,” Ragland said. “It’s a good experience.”

He said he had fun playing up his role of Teavee.

“A lot of people say I look like him,” Ragland said. In the play, he modernizes Teavee’s TV habits by playing a portable gaming device and talking on a smartphone. “He’s a funny character, so it’s been fun saying his lines.”

Doors opened for the play at 5:30 p.m. A line formed outside of the door of family and friends eager to see the students in action.

Samantha Scialdo, back, adjusts the costume of her daughter, Piper. Piper, a third-grade student, is one of several elementary school students who took part in Buckingham County Middle School’s production of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

Pictured are Rachel Bardon, left, and Meredith DeLong-Maxey. Bardon played Charlie Bucket and DeLong-Maxey played Willy Wonka.