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Seattle's Teen Summer Musical addresses social issues in fresh take on Willy Wonka

KING-TV Seattle logo KING-TV Seattle 8/20/2019 Angela Russell
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More than 50 tweens and teens spent their entire summer at Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute in Seattle’s Central District, rehearsing for what has become a Seattle Summer Tradition.

The Teen Summer Musical, through Seattle Parks and Recreation, attracts young people throughout the region and it culminates with a two-hour show at Benaroya Hall.  

This year’s musical is called Uncle Willy’s Chocolate Factory, a twist on the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate factory.

The show typically takes on a social justice issue, and this year, the focus is gentrification and community.  

“Gentrification is taking over the community. Willy Wonka sees that and is starting to wonder whether his factory is going to last in the community,” said Director Isiah Anderson, who has personally witnessed Seattle’s Central District change. "This community center was a spot where kids in the community came. This was our chocolate factory. We have kids who once lived here move out because they can’t afford to live in the city. They are now in Renton, Tukwila, and Federal Way.” 

RELATED: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory takes the stage at Seattle's Paramount Theatre

The music in the show is original, written by Michelle Lang and composed by Cedric Thomas.

Lang said she hopes the show makes the community reconsider how it cares for itself. “When you make these business decisions, let’s do it in a way that’s being led with love. Let’s not just leave our kids with more stuff, but leave them better people.”  

The program allows teens to connect, communicate and exchange ideas with other youth from different backgrounds and cultures.

Uncle Willy’s Chocolate Factory runs Thursday,  Aug. 22 through Sunday, Aug. 25 at Seattle’s Benaroya Hall (200 University Street).

Ticket and show information can be found here.  

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