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FHS kids in state design finals with ‘Wonka’

April 15, 2019

Theater design assignment: Think about Willie Wonka and get creative.

Five thespians from Friendswood High School did just that and are heading to the state finals in University Interscholastic League’s theatrical design competition.

It’s the second year in a row for senior Sydney Chambers-Oller to qualify in the category of set design. Keana Jazdyk, a junior, will compete in marketing, while senior Gracie Ruiz, junior Gabriela Weakley and sophomore Ashleigh Prince each advanced in hair and makeup.

Students across the state, including a dozen in Amy Thornton’s technical theater classes at Friendswood High, submitted entries in the categories of set design, marketing, costumes and hair and makeup for a hypothetical staging of Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

“They all did a great job,” Thornton said.

The state theatrical design contest will be held April 25-26 at the Round Rock Performing Arts Center near Austin.

The contest’s “directorial prompt” advised students to find out everything they could about the late British author “and seek inspiration from his life and words to justify” their design choices.

Ruiz, for example, plastered the face of one character, Mike Teavee, with candy canes as her way of depicting the author’s “almost chaotic” early years, she said.

Crown of candy wrappers

The 18-year-old daughter of Chad and Sara Ruiz also created a crown of candy wrappers for the play’s eccentric chocolatier, Willy Wonka, and styled Veruca Salt, a billionaire’s petulant daughter, in rich pink, blue and purple colors.

Jazdyk said she read Dahl’s autobiography and gleaned from it that “he was big on creativity and imagination.”

In the marketing challenge, she was inspired to design a poster for the hypothetical production that shows the title character holding the “Golden Ticket” he finds, which grants him entry to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.

“You can’t see his face, just his eyes, and they are pretty big with excitement,” said the 17-year-old daughter of David and Michiyo Jazdyk.

For the playbill, she drew about 20 miniature portraits of the show’s cast members, placing them against a “unique rectangular background” with a different color for each quadrant.

Weakley, 16, said that her hair and makeup for Willy Wonka pictures him as “old but eccentric.”

“It has a lot of color — blues, oranges and yellows — that show how he’s in touch with his youth,” said the daughter of Bill and Grace Weakley. “His hair is white, but he has a pink face with freckles, like a kid.”

Prince designed costumes for Mike Teavee, the wealthy Salt family and an Oompa Loompa, a diminutive worker in the chocolate factory.

The daughter of Joseph and Maria Prince “placed them in the Renaissance,” Thornton said.

In addition to sketching her set design, Chambers-Oller constructed a clay model of the proposed set she envisioned.

“She always includes a lot of detail,” said Thornton.

The 18-year-old daughter of David and Sarah Oller “created a model made out of clay, with a hill covered with fabric and a tube filled with painted fabric to simulate a chocolate,” said her teacher.

On April 25, the state qualifiers will be allowed to revise and make adjustments to their displays in the design gallery.

Next, they will give 90-second presentations to the judges about their design choices.

On April 26, the students will be treated to master classes, which will be followed by judges’ critiques and the announcement of the top awards in each category.

Don Maines is a freelance writer who can be reached at donmaines@att.net