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Museum protects Oompa Loompas from Vermicious Knids

Wangdoodles, hornswogglers, snozzwangers and rotten, vermicious knids

RALEIGH — It’s everybody’s non-pollutionary, anti-institutionary, pro-confectionery factory of fun! It’s scrumdiddlyumptious! It’s the original Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” showing at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh on Friday, September 4 at 7 pm. (Free. Golden ticket not required for entry.)Willy Wonka movie poster

“Willy Wonka” (1971) tells the story of a poor boy who wins the opportunity to tour the most amazing and eccentric candy factory of all. Mild disasters and sugar-coated wonders appear around every corner. The mad genius candy impresario Willy Wonka is brought to life by the mad genius comedy impresario Gene Wilder, whose many collaborations with Mel Brooks include “The Producers,” “Blazing Saddles” and “Young Frankenstein.” “Willy Wonka” was based on Roald Dahl’s book (originally named “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”). Dahl also wrote the popular children’s book “James and the Giant Peach” and the screenplay for “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.”

Poor boy Charlie Bucket is played by Peter Ostrum in his first and only film. He is now a vet to large farm animals in rural New York state. In fact, of the five Wonka kids, Julie Dawn Cole (Veruca “I Want it Now” Salt) is the only one still acting. Jack Albertson plays Charlie’s lovable Grandpa Joe. Alberston is perhaps best known for his role as “The Man” in the mid-70s TV series “Chico and the Man,” for which he won an Emmy. Albertson, a former song-and-dance man and veteran of vaudeville, burlesque and Broadway, is one of very few to win the “Triple Crown” of acting: in addition to the Emmy, he won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in “The Subject Was Roses” (1968), a role that also garnered him a Tony award during its Broadway run.

Nora “Dodo” Denney was the second choice to play Mike TeeVee’s mom ? the first was Jean Stapleton, who declined the part to do a TV pilot for “All in the Family.” Oompa loompan Angelo Muscat was the most accomplished actor among all those little orange men, with recurring roles as the butler in the popular ‘60s British TV series “The Prisoner” and as Chumbley in “Doctor Who.” Veruca’s dad, Mr. Salt, is played by Roy Kinnear, who also appeared as Planchet in “The Three Musketeers” (1973) and “The Four Musketeers” (1974). Reprising his role in the “Return of the Musketeers” (1989) led to his death from a horse riding accident during filming.

The Museum stays open from 5 to 9 pm on the first Friday of every month. Arrive early and wander through eye-catching exhibits highlighting the natural beauty of North Carolina, enjoy snacks and beverages from the Acro Café, and groove to live music from Daniel Sean and Steve Harvell. Or, get the complete story behind the tasty treat that we crave in “Chocolate,” the Museum’s newest traveling exhibit (First Friday discount: all tickets $4; available at the box office till 7 pm). Additionally, the Museum Store offers after-hours shopping and an opening reception (6:30-8:30 pm) for Mark Pomilio, whose show “The Art of Science” appears in the Nature Art Gallery September 4-27. All exhibited art is for sale.

The NC Museum of Natural Sciences is located in downtown Raleigh at 11 West Jones Street. Parking is available on the street and in surface lots along Wilmington and Edenton streets. For more information, contact Steve Popson at 919.733.7450 x379.