Groovy production: Slidell team advances to state with its take on “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”

By Richard Greene | Published Wednesday, April 24, 2019
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Headed to state

HEADED TO STATE – The Slidell theatrical design team of Kaitlyn Reynolds, Bailey Meyer, Lexi Swift and Cate Zuniga will compete in the UIL state contest Thursday and Friday. Messenger photo by Richard Greene

Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” takes audiences on a wild ride through Willy Wonka’s fantasyland.

Tasked with marketing, designing a set, costumes and makeup for a presentation of the play, a Slidell quartet re-imagined it in the 1960s for its entry into the UIL state theatrical design contest.

Bailey Meyer, Kaitlyn Reynolds, Cate Zuniga and Lexi Swift will represent Slidell in the state contest Thursday and Friday at the Round Rock Performing Arts Center.

Their entry was selected from their theater class by teacher Beth Dill for the contest.

“We were surprised when she said she was sending it in,” Meyer said.

The quartet’s entry now will be judged against other entries from 1A to 4A.

“It’s not just 1A,” Meyer said. “Mrs. Dill said it’s one of the hardest events to qualify for because you’re judged on four different aspects.”

Reynolds added: “We are also competing with schools where this is what they do all the time.”

Part of this year’s competition is a three-minute presentation. The group will have to present without Meyer, who can’t make the trip to Round Rock due to her commitments to compete at the Class A Region III track meet.

At the start of the contest, teams are challenged to imagine and produce “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” in a way it’s never been produced. Teams had to submit inspiration boards, color illustrations and justification papers for costumes, sets, hair and makeup and marketing, which included the design of a playbill.

“It’s designing everything for a play and how you want it to look,” Zuniga explained.

The team settled on the 1960s because it was when the book was published. They wanted to capture the counter-culture of the 1960s and incorporate it into the production.

“We went with a hippie theme to put our spin on it,” Meyer said. “For the makeup for one of my characters, I tried to make her a flower child. She has a bandanna with big flowers on it. And for Willy Wonka, we made him look like a typical hippie with the bandanna and glasses.”

Reynolds added: “You have to pay a lot of attention to details.”

The four members divided up tasks. Meyer was in charge of makeup. Reynolds designed costumes. Zuniga worked on the sets. Swift handled the marketing.

For the most part, the group said the groovy project went smooth.

“We had a few disagreements along the way,” Swift said.

Meyer, Zuniga and Reynolds are all on the cast and crew for Slidell’s statebound one-act play.

But at the end of their theatrical design project, the four couldn’t imagine taking up this task for an entire production.

“I can’t imagine doing the makeup for every character,” Meyer said.

Zuniga said: “It was really stressful.”

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