Didn’t think Charlie Bucket could get any higher than his near-death experience with Wonka’s Fizzy Lifting Drink? Well then, think again.
Roald Dahl’s litany of literary characters are getting lit in Los Angeles this week with the opening of Willy Wonka and the Weed Factory, a musical satire presented by Welland Productions and sponsored by the California-based concentrates company Spliffin.
The original comedy, co-written by Brittany Belland and Weslie Lechner, takes the audience to the year 2025, in which cannabis has just been legalized for use and production across the United States, and deep into the heart of a small town, where reefer madness still reigns supreme—despite pot’s new legal status.
Enter Willy Wonka.
Mr. Wonka will be opening the nation’s first “weed factory”—in this very town—leaving most of the townspeople terrified. In an attempt to educate and enlighten the citizens, the eccentric hemp enthusiast invites five “Golden Spliffin” winners to his factory, so they can experience all the wonders that cannabis has to offer.
While quite obviously inspired by the Roald Dahl classic, for the writers, the show actually hits much closer to home than just a beloved childhood story.
Belland—who, in addition to her roles as producer and co-writer, also plays the lead character, “Charlotte Bucket”—explained to HIGH TIMES that her upbringing in a small, conservative Ohio town was a major influence while writing. Even with the recent spread of legalization and gaining support for marijuana across the nation, a huge portion of the country’s population remains uneducated about cannabis.
According to Belland, Willy Wonka and the Weed Factory‘s goal is to change that.
The show is more than a story about smoking weed; it’s sing-a-long activism.
Exploring the history of pot’s criminalization, its ties to social and racial injustices, as well as all of the medicinal and environmental benefits the plant has to offer, this musical satire’s aim is to educate while it entertains. Think: School House Rock for prohibitionists, enlightening the staunchest opponents of weed, one catchy show tune at a time.
Willy Wonka and the Weed Factory opens this Thursday, July 20, at the Fremont Centre Theatre in South Pasadena for a five-show run, but Belland told HIGH TIMES that this is just the beginning. She hopes to follow up this world premiere by taking the musical on the road; she understands that the audience she needs to reach goes well beyond California (we’ve heard Chicago might be next).
But all successful shows (and campaigns to effect change) have to start somewhere, and Belland is super excited to kick things off in sunny SoCal, the place where she first learned to appreciate all the benefits of cannabis after leaving Ohio.
Tickets are available online HERE, and you can get $5 off by using the code HIGHFACTORY.
In the 1971 film adaptation, Willy Wonka sings: “If you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it. Anything you want to, do it. Want to change the world? There’s nothing to it.”
Well, that’s pure imagination. Changing the world takes hard work, and Belland and her team are a testament to that.
Support marijuana. Support emerging theater. Support local venues. Support local artists and activists. Support change. Support those working to help make the world a better place. Welland Productions has already done most of the heavy lifting on this one, you just need to click a few buttons, buy a ticket and enjoy a musical.
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