Wonka with a killer twist

Who Wacked Willy Wonka? The Oompa Loompas? Vile Veruca Salt? The lovable Granmpa Joe? Kind Mrs. Bucket? It was up to the audience members at Wooden Wheel Vineyards on Saturday to solve this Murder Mystery before desserts were all gone, but before some laughs, gasps, chills and thrills along the way.

Presented by Maria Romine and David Treadway of Upstage Productions of St. Louis, MO, “Who Wacked Willy Wonka” featured the colorful characters from Charlie and The Chocolate Factory and some new faces to incorporate all dinner patrons at Wooden Wheel Vineyards in Keota for a hilarious mystery guided by Romine and Treadway’s characters.

“The mystery is around these familiar characters played by members of the audience, which makes it fun for everyone,” Romine, who plays Mrs. Bucket throughout the production said. “They get to be as much a part of our show as we are.”

Before the mystery is afoot, Romine and Treadway as Grandpa Joe engage with the audience as they get to know them, make them laugh until their faces hurt, and assign roles based off who seemed really into the production already.

“We can be as on point with our characters as possible, but if the audience members don’t engage, the show will not go,” Treadway said. “Having a great audience like we had here makes the show pop. People really feel the freedom to get into their parts. During the show, we do everything we can to make them feel comfortable to jump in and do it.”

With the characters in play and the duo at the helm, the mystery begins with introducing key parts across the room from eager patrons from across the surrounding areas. Treadway regularly sneaks back upstairs to change into a plethora of amusing characters, including Augustus Gloop and Willy Wonka himself.

“It’s the spontaneity of the play,” Treadway said. “For two hours, we get the opportunity to help an audience create a play and participate in something that brings them joy and laughs. When you get people laughing over these characters, all the stress in their lives goes away.”  

Clues were carefully laid out throughout the production as Romine’s character acted as the guiding force throughout. She interviewed guests, argued with a perverted Oompa Loompa (once again Treadway) and let the audience act out their characters based off lines handed out earlier.

“I love the interaction and the uncertainty of not knowing exactly what’s going to happen,” Romine said. “A person may stick to their lines or they will get into their parts, like we saw from several people tonight. You never know what’s going to happen.”  For more on this play, check out this weeks Eagle.