Alta-Aurelia to stage ‘Willy Wonka’ in November

Friday, October 11, 2019

Rehearsals began recently for the Alta-Aurelia Schools’ fall musical production of “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” Performances are scheduled for November 8, 9 and 10 at the Roxy Theater in Alta. The cast members are as follows:

WILLY WONKA – Nathan Weflen

VERUCA SALT – Sydney Stanton


MR. SALT – Matthew Cummins

GRANDPA JOE – Caden Shea



MRS. BEAUREGARDE – Jessica Larson




MRS. GLOOP – Grace Arnts

MR. BUCKET – Harrison Price

MIKE TEAVEE – Kyler Mattson

MRS. BUCKET – Lydia Feis

MS. TEAVEE – Kienna Carr

PHINEOUS TROUT – Simon Carlson

JAMES – Ava Graham

CANDY MAN – Joelle Arnts

MATILDA – Kyla Galvin

The stage director is Carrie Buddenhagen, and Natalie Bradburn is the music director. She is also the high school vocal music teacher.

Buddenhagen said the plan is to stay with the authentic story. “We have secured rights to perform the show from Music Theatre International and are under contract to perform the show as written in the script, so we won’t be changing the story,” she said, adding that they are free to do their own costume and set design.

Buddenhagen wears many hats. She is the high school speech coach and directs the fall musical and spring play for the high school. She is also president of the Buena Vista Community Theatre (BVCT) board of directors and has been on the board since 2004. She first performed at the Roxy Theater in 1988 in the Alta school’s fall musical. “It is still my favorite theatre in which to perform,” Buddenhagen said.

Alta-Aurelia High School productions typically include a musical in the fall and a play in the spring, performed at the Roxy Theater. Other uses of the theater include the high school speech team practices from November through March, and they host a conference pre-district speech day prior to their first large group speech competition of the year. The Roxy is also used for National Honor Society ceremonies, Senior Awards Night, teacher workshops and other meetings. The Alta Elementary PTO has hosted movies for the students as well.

In addition to school-year productions, The BVCT has been producing summer shows at the Roxy since June of 1991. “For the last three years, BVCT has been developing our youth programming,” Buddenhagen said. They provided camps the last two summers and had a full stage production for their youth in the summer with the production of “Frozen Jr.” which had more than 60 youth ages 5-18 from eight area communities, Buddenhagen said.

The Roxy has a rich history. The Alta Elementary PTO has hosted movies for students which is a fun reminder of the “olden days” when the theater was a movie house, Buddenhagen said. Residents have watched movies there, at times in another language, and there have been weddings and community dances in the basement.

A few remodels of the Roxy Theater have taken place over the years. “The improvements made it so much better to perform there due to improved acoustics, new stage flooring, lighting and curtains,” Buddenhagen said, adding that the old projection booth is still used to run the spotlights, but now there are new light and sound control boards. The seating that was installed with the 1990 remodel made the audience more comfortable, and every seat angled toward center stage, creating not a bad seat in the house, she said.

In the last few years, the schools and BVCT have partnered to update the light and sound systems. BVCT has donated several items to the Roxy over the years, including an outdoor bulletin board, new wing curtains, a piano, and an air conditioner for the lounge. “We continue to look at ways to collaborate to improve the Roxy,” Buddenhagen said.

The Roxy Theater is owned by the Alta-Aurelia school district, having been purchased in the late 1980s from the City of Alta. The initial remodel, funded by the school district, included the main theater house where dressing rooms and a make-up room were added in the basement. The Alta Community Library was still housed in what is now the Roxy’s lounge and restrooms. That area was remodeled after the library moved to the community center. The lounge and restroom area project was the first major collaboration for the schools when BVCT donated funds for the project. The first show after the remodel was in the fall of 1990, and BVCT had its first show there in June of 1991. Since then, BVCT has donated a portion of the proceeds from every show performed at the Roxy to the schools for rent and upkeep of the theater, Buddenhagen said.