Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory has been read—and enjoyed—by the students this year at the Milltown Primary School.
But those characters jumped off the pages and came to life when the Eisenhower Intermediate School’s Drama Club appeared on stage at Milltown on Thursday, April 6.
The final school day before the Spring Break began for the Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School District produced an entertaining performance by the Eisenhower students, who rightfully received a loud applause from the audience of Milltown students and staff.
The Eisenhower students provided a quick glimpse of the play—-Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory— that they will perform at their school on April 27 and 28.
Meanwhile, the title of the book for Milltown’s One Book One School program just happens to be Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Each year Milltown students focus on reading one book under this initiative.
During a school-wide assembly on February 1 of this year, the Milltown students learned what novel they would read under the One Book One school program.
Thus, a partnership was born between Eisenhower and Milltown students and staff.
“It was just a coincidence that Eisenhower is doing their play off this book and that is our One Book One School book this year,” Milltown Principal Matt Lembo reported. “So there was the opportunity to connect between both schools.”
Principal Lembo and Eisenhower administrators then teamed up.
“When I asked them about coming, Laura (Eisenhower Principal Dr. Laura Bassett) and Lauren (Lauren Smith, Eisenhower Drama Club Director) jumped at the opportunity,” Principal Lembo said.
But to add more excitement to the visit, that appearance of the Eisenhower students was kept secret.
“We wanted it to be a surprise to our students,” Principal Lembo revealed. “We set it up that myself and one of our phys ed teachers (Bryan Smith) were having trouble setting up the video while the kids sat (in the muti-purpose room) waiting. They thought they were going to watch a video of the book.”
While principal a teacher turned actors fooled the audience, the door to the multi-purpose room flew open and the actors from Eisenhower, led by Ms. Smith, took center stage.
Then the shock turned to excitement when the Eisenhower students performed in front of an attentive audience.
“Our students were very surprised. We pulled it off,” said Mr. Smith, who did a fine job acting along with Principal Lembo during the staged video issue.
The students reacted that their principal and gym teacher were believable.
“We were all surprised,” a group of Milltown 3rd Graders proclaimed after the show.
Ms. Smith, who was accompanied by her fellow Co-Music Director at Eisenhower, Lisa Rotondi, was thrilled that her students were able to show off their dress rehearsal.
“I am so happy that our Eisenhower Drama Club students were able to visit the students and staff at Milltown School and perform for them,” Ms. Smith said. “The Eisenhower students were so excited to help share the message of kindness and honesty found in Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory through the theater arts.”
The practice before a live crowd was helpful, so said one Eisenhower student actor.
“Performing for the students at Milltown was fun and a really good experience for our cast before our actual performances,” said one of the main characters in the show, Gavin Apirian, a 6th Grader who plays Willy Wonka.
Principal Lembo concluded.
“What our students read was now in front of them on stage.”