Mudlark Theater Company continues its 7th season with Roald Dahl’s CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, a candy-coated adventure that is as sinister as it is sweet. Directed by Associate Artistic Director Janna Sobel, CHARLIE finishes its two-weekend run this Friday, Dec. 9 through Sunday, Dec. 11, at The House Theater, 1417 Hinman Ave., in Evanston. CHARLIE continues with 7:30 p.m. shows on Friday and Saturday and another 6 p.m. show on Sunday. Tickets are $10 for adults; $8 for children and students. Tickets may be purchased at the door or online at www.mudlarktheater.org.

Sobel says she and Mudlark Artistic Director Andrew Biliter and Managing Director Michael Miro had been looking for the right space to stage a production of CHARLIE for quite some time. “Then we actually found one that was just right under our noses,” she says, explaining that the theater is in the lower level of the Evanston church building where the children’s theater company’s office and rehearsal space is located. “It’s exciting because it actually is exactly what we wanted.” The concept was to break down the “fourth wall” for an environmental production that puts audience members directly at the center of the action. “It really looks like the inside of a factory and has this industrial, urban feel to it.”

As Willy Wonka, Chicago actor and improviser Jeff Rukes leads a cast of 25 young Mudlark actors through the delightfully dark tale of fantasy and industry. “Willy Wonka has to be this very dapper dandy and genteel gentleman, but at the same time sinister and diabolical. It’s a difficult role and has been played by all the best actors. I was thrilled to get Jeff for the part.” But it’s the young actors who get the greatest workout of the production, sliding in, on and off stage as the sticky fable of privilege and poverty unfolds. “It becomes a very dynamic, almost athletic piece,” Sobel adds. “I really love the way that we enter the space with the audience and invite them into the experience.”

About Mudlark Theater Company

Mudlark Theater Company is dedicated to providing children ages 8 to 18 with hands-on acting and backstage experiences, and audiences of all ages with entertaining theater. Founded by Amy Eaton in 2005 on the belief that children are capable of creating compelling, honest, laugh-out-loud funny performances, Mudlark offers young artists a safe, challenging environment in which to hone their skills. More information is available at www.mudlarktheater.org.