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This show is worthy of a golden ticket

Willy Wonka’s Oompa Loompas give a dazzling performance Tuesday afternoon. - Tara Lemm/Staff photo
Willy Wonka’s Oompa Loompas give a dazzling performance Tuesday afternoon.
— image credit: Tara Lemm/Staff photo

POULSBO — The show will go on.

The Kitsap Children’s Musical Theatre (KCMT), from its inception in 2000, has been on the search for a tried and true rehearsal space to call their own.

“I’ve fought with all my being for the last eight years, trying to get us a space,” said Founder and Director Kerby Criss.

Criss is still fighting for a rehearsal room.

She said KCMT can rent a facility from the North Kitsap School District, Breidablik Hall or the Armory, but as those facilities are in such high demand for the district itself and other community organizations, sometimes KCMT and its 80 children members get bumped.

Criss said she can’t count all the times she’s been bumped in the last eight years, and if she has gray hair it’s because of this.

“I think the (North) Kitsap community needs to take a look at building a facility where music and dance can perform because there’s a great need,” she said. “All you have to do is build one and it will be filled, constantly, I know that for a fact. And connected with it should be a rehearsal hall.”

Criss also has a dream and a plan, and she just might tackle resurrecting a rehearsal hall. She thinks KCMT could find the property, the glitch comes in finding the money, which Criss said is a possibility through grants.

“Within the next five years it will happen,” she said.

But in the interim the show must go on, which is exactly what’s already happening, with a little help from the Poulsbo branch of the Kitsap Regional Library and the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.

Both of which have been very accommodating to work with in providing practice space, Criss said.

Starting in August KCMT staff and 80-kid chorus, ranging in ages 4 to 17 representing 17 Kitsap County schools, began practicing “Willy Wonka Jr.”

Most of the student cast members are returners, Criss said, but Wonka’s seen the highest number of new families than ever before.

They’re stoked for the raising of the curtain.

“It’s a very popular show and the minute it became available we hopped on it right away,” Criss said.

The story line is similar to the two movies, KCMT’s particular performance is the junior version.

Criss forecasts the Oompa Loompas will be the show stealer.

“Oh, they’re so cute, the rest of the cast just squeals for them,” Criss gushed.

Watching a Tuesday rehearsal in the room below the library, one must agree with Criss.

Seven tiny Oompas danced, bobbed up and down, jigged and sang the show’s classics. Their faces gleamed. They laughed along with the chorus, and their smiles were reflected on the expressions of those in observance.

Poulsbo Elementary first-grader Ian Poffenroth, 7, is an Oompa, and he loves it. He also delights in being a KCMT cast member.

“You get to make new friends. If you’re good and quiet and good singers and dancers you earn a crayon and the team with the most crayons at the end gets a prize,” said Ian, who’s also a town boy.

“Wonka” is Ian’s third play with KCMT so he’s not nervous to hit the stage. “I have to concentrate on singing loud, dancing well and paying attention.”

KCMT may provide entertainment value to North End communities, but it also provides numerous social and education benefits to the child performers.

Criss said a lot of kids in the theatre don’t seem to fit in in other places, but performing is just the right ticket.

“The one thing parents say is, ‘Finally my child has found a niche,’ and they flourish,” she said, adding theater is a really great outlet for mildly autistic children.

Today at Kid’s Day in Poulsbo the KCMT chorus will give three, 30-minute performances of songs from “Willy Wonka Jr.” at the gazebo at noon, 1 and 2 p.m.

KCMT will perform “Wonka” the weekends of Oct. 17-19 and Oct. 24-26 at the North Kitsap Auditorium.

Because the show is such a popular classic, Criss said 2 p.m. matinee performances on Oct. 18 and 25 were added, all other showings start at 7 p.m.

Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door, and may be purchased in advance at Liberty Bay Books, Poulsbo Book Stop and Dream Dinners, or on KCMT’s Web site, www.kcmt.org.

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