This weekend: A world of pure imagination

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Upbin, a seasoned community theater actor and singer, said that it’s always fantastic to work with his children in theater. “After Sandy, it was even more important to go forward, and do this show to make things start to go back to normal as best we can,” he said. “I love working with Ben, and watch him grow on stage. He has a better memory than I do, so he always helps me with my lines.”

Billy O’Brien, of Valley Stream, is playing Charlie, one of the lucky children to find a golden ticket and tour Wonka’s factory. His real-life father, Gerry O’Brien, plays his father, Mr. Bucket, in the show.

“Fortunately we weren’t as badly affected as were many our fellow cast mates,” said Billy, referring to the storm.

“We only lost power for five days. Being in “Willy Wonka” this year has been a great experience, and playing Charlie is a blast. The Island Park Theatre Group is not just a theatre group — it’s a family. It is my favorite thing to do. Everyday during rehearsal season I look forward to come to rehearsal and perform the shows. I have made so many lifelong friendships and I am so happy and thankful for that.”

John Korotki is a 46-year-old married father of two. He brought his daughter, Christina, to the auditions and, on a lark, he tried out for a part — and wound up landing the feature role of Mr Salt, father to the bratty Veruca. “My daughter landed the role of Cherry Sundae, the reporter,” he said. “We’ve been practicing our lines together, and she even helps me build the scenery for the show. We’ve made new friends and strengthened our father-daughter bond.”

Korotki said that he feels fortunate to be able to connect with neighboring communities, especially in light of last year’s disaster. “Community efforts such as this production cement the fact that the South Shore of Long Island was never broken, just wet,” he said.

A word from Wonka and the director
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