When Jessica Case, 11, opened the chocolate bar she bought from a Liberty High School drama club fundraiser, she discovered — along with the candy — a golden ticket inside.
"I jumped around and gave it to my mom," said Jessica, a sixth-grader at Sykesville Middle School.
Just like the fabled golden tickets featured in the book, "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," by Roald Dahl, Jessica's golden ticket, and four others hidden in chocolate bars sold by the drama club, provide winners with a chance to see Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. The club has been selling the bars are locations around Sykesville and Eldersburg, including the recent Sykesville Fall Festival.
For Jessica, it also means two tickets to Liberty High School's production of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" — and a cameo spot in the play and a chance to go backstage.
"We thought it would be fun," said Liz Clark, publicity chair for the production, of the golden ticket promotion. "It's a publicity stunt, and obviously a fundraiser, too."
The school's fall production opens this coming week, on Nov. 15. But at the Nov. 30 production, Jessica will join other golden ticket winners at the performance. It will not be her first time on stage, however.
"At my elementary school, I was in the choir play, but that's it," said Jessica, who enjoys contemporary dancing. "My mom, my dad and my younger brother are coming (to see the show).
"I've seen both of the movies," she added. "I like the Oompa Loompa songs."
Kneepads are essential to the Oompa Loompas costume. The 10 Oompa Loompas in the production do everything – from twirling umbrellas to escorting spoiled children out of the factory – on their knees.
"Kneepads were a good investment," said Tina Delcher, co-director. She said students in the show are great sports about all the demands of the roles. "They're a great group of kids. They are willing to try anything."
To create Wonka's magical world, the show is filled with moving sets, a "flying elevator," smoke and more, according to Liberty senior Billy Goheen, who is also the production manager and student assistant director for the show.
"This is the dream year for me," said Goheen, who has been a production manager at LHS all four years of high school. Director Tony Cimino agrees that the show is one of the most technical the school has ever produced, but thinks the results are going to be worth it.
"This is going to be fantastic," Cimino said. "There's going to be lots of candy involved."
For Shane Owings, a freshman, the chance to play Mike Teavee, a main character, was a chance too good to pass up.
"I'm a freshman and I got a lead role," said Owings, 14."It's a wonderful experience. I love everyone here. It's like a big family."
Having transferred to Liberty during her sophomore year from Japan, Leah White, who plays Owings' character's mother, says the group, especially Cimino, are great.
"The program here is really good," White, 16, said. "Mr. Cimino is just fantastic. He has done incredible things with this play."
"Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," will open at Liberty High School, 5855 Bartholow Road, Eldersburg, on Thursday, Nov. 15, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $8 in advance; $12 for adults at the door and $10 for students and seniors at the door. Additional show dates are Nov. 16, 17, 29 and 30, at 7 p.m. each night; and Dec. 1 at 2 p.m. For information, call the school at 410-751-3560.