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Teens Take on 'Willy Wonka'

Energy was high on Wednesday night before the Off-Beat Players' production of "Willy Wonka" opening at the Arch Street Teen Center in Greenwich. Brian Ciccone, the director of the show was decked out in grandpa gear getting ready to perform as he gave updates to the actors.

"Five minutes everyone, get into places!" Ciccone yelled over the crowd of nervous teenagers huddled in groups anticipating the start of the sold-out show.

"Willy Wonka" is based on the book "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" by Roald Dahl and tells the story of Charlie Bucket, a poor boy who finds one of five "golden tickets" to tour the Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory, led by Willy Wonka himself. It stars Kelsey Dietz as Charlie Bucket and Tony Morello as Willy Wonka. Ciccone plays Charlie's grandfather, Grandpa Joe, who accompanies Charlie to the factory.

As Kim Malara, the show's executive producer and founder of the Off-Beat Players welcomed the audience, Ciccone as Grandpa Joe, waddled to the stage. When Malara introduced the theatrical teen group, which was formed in 2007, "Grandpa Joe" joked, "I used to have hair when I started to work with them."

The Off-Beat Players Inc. is a nonprofit theater company that provides an opportunity for young people to work together and participate in a performing arts program. Of the players, Malara stated in the show's program, "We all have a golden ticket within our reach ... for me, it is a wonderful symbol what this company has become and a great reminder of how to live life."

The musical "Willy Wonka," was adapted for stage by Leslie Bricusse and Tim McDonald with music and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley. The production will continue Thursday, Friday andand Saturday only at Arch Street Teen Center located at 100 Arch St. in Greenwich at 7:30 p.m. To purchase tickets for the show or for more information, visit the playersÂ’ Web site.

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