Four Seasons’ latest stage production is so family oriented, most scenes for its newest showing will feature at least two members from an acting family, if not more.
The local musical theatre troupe is performing six showings of Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka at Claremont’s Ridge Playhouse April 12 and 13, and then April 19 and 20. In the cast from Broadmead are four members of the Paxman family, which has been a lot of fun, said mom Jessica Paxman, a veteran of half dozen Four Seasons shows. (It’s not the only family as all three members of the West Shore’s Newton family are also in the cast, with Sarah Newton playing Willy Wonka.)
“It’s a lot of fun, it’s certainly a family affair and we’re all enjoying it,” Jessica said. There’s actually six members of the Paxman family, with two more little ones at rehearsal but who are still in waiting for their Four Seasons debuts.
Jessica plays Mrs. Bucket, while her partner Matt Paxman plays the Candy Man, 12-year-old Oliver plays James while younger brother Hayden, 10, plays Grandpa George. Both boys double as Oompa Loompas. Matt actually played Augustus Gloop in Four Seasons’ Willy Wonka about 25 years ago.
For Hayden, who’s in Grade 5, playing an intergenerational role as Grandpa George is actually one the most comedic parts of the musical, Jessica said.
“Of the four grandparents in bed, three know each other as Grade 5 students and only one is actually old enough to be a grandparent.”
For Oliver, meanwhile, it’s an acting debut and a chance to get comfortable with performing at Claremont, where he’ll likely be starting Grade 9 in two years with hopes of studying in the theatrical program.
Longtime members of Four Seasons Musical Theatre Nikole Crooks and Chantelle Morneau are the co-directors of the show. Kevin Frye is the musical director as the play features the same songs from the 1971 film starring Gene Wilder, with songs by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley. Mirella Standbridge leads the set building team.
It likely won’t be the last performance that sees four Paxmans on stage together. Four Seasons is performing Roald Dahl’s Matilda in the fall, and Jessica believes there’s enough interest that they’ll be returning.
As a parent, one of the trickiest challenges is to let the kids do the learning themselves, Jessica said.
“I try to leave the coaching to [the directors], I have to stop myself and let the directors tell them,” she said. “I do take notes from the director, bring them home and I explain ‘it’s on behalf of the director.’”
Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka runs April 12, 7 p.m., April 13, 2 and 7 p.m., April 19, 7 p.m., April 20, 2 and 7 p.m., at Claremont’s The Ridge Theatre. Tickets for adults are $20, children are $12, with family passes for $60 (two adults, two children) online at victoriaticket.ca or at the door.