People can be sweet -- even sweeter than Willy Wonka candies.
Trinity Lutheran School drama students performed Roald Dahl's "Willy Wonka Jr." on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, less than a fortnight after fire and smoke damage forced Trinity leadership to close the church and school to staff and students, according to performance director Karin Schatte.
Schatte, a teacher at the school, said staff and performers couldn't be in their regular space for safety reasons.
"But, thankfully, Itsy Bitsy Broadway offered to give up their space and use it for our show, which was such a gift," Schatte said.
A lot has happened during the past two weeks, she said.
Shortly after midnight on the morning of April 15, fire crews responded to a fire alarm at the school. Smoke was boiling from Trinity Lutheran Church and School. While fire controls had contained the fire to a single classroom, smoke had filled the rest of the structure.
The damage was done. Classes and services were canceled or moved.
But people began reaching out.
"We are so excited that we are able to bring you this show," Schatte told about 150 people seated Saturday in the audience of the Itsy Bitsy Theater. "Because two weeks ago today, I got a call from my principal saying, 'We had a fire at school and we don't know when we're going back.'"
Students returned to school several days after the fire, not at Trinity, but at Concord Baptist and Faith Lutheran Church, she told audience members.
"And we're so excited we were able to come back to school," she said. "Which is such a blessing. The kids came in and we rehearsed over at Scene One (Theatre)."
Then, early in the past week, operators of Itsy Bitsy Theater offered their theater.
"So we were here on Sunday, and here we are," she told the Saturday night audience. "We were so grateful that they had the lights and the sound and a set that was ready for us to make our home. We're very thankful to make that happen."
But there was still a lot of work that needed doing.
The performance has 28 seventh- and eighth-grade students in the cast and crew. They needed to practice and prepare.
Everything on the Trinity Lutheran stage, which is in the cafeteria/gymnasium area, had been safe from fire damage, but was permeated with smoke.
"(Fire restoration personnel) were able to take all of our sets, props and costumes into the ozone room that they built at school," Schatte told the News Tribune. "That was in there overnight -- about 24 hours. And they were able to get that smoke smell out of our things. So we didn't have to replace a whole lot."
Students performed "Willy Wonka Jr." on Thursday and Friday evening. As she warmed up the Saturday night audience, Schatte told them that a year ago, when she was considering which performance would work best for her students this year, she realized the students "have this wonderful enthusiasm for life."
She said they dig in and work hard.
Charlie Bucket is a character that is all about telling the truth and showing love to others, she explained. That's the school's theme for its school year -- to show love, indeed.
"We want to show you love in our deeds and actions," Schatte said. "But also we love indeed, because we are loved indeed."