Last night, at my local Alamo Drafthouse, I attended The Ultimate Willy Wonka Fan Party. As if I hadn’t already had enough excitement with my Billy Idol celebrity book signing earlier in the day, last night I got to meet the real Mike Teevee (Paris Themman) and Veruca Salt (Julie Dawn Cole) I’ve been to many movie events at the Alamo but this was probably one of the coolest!
The thing with the Alamo is that they make their classic movie screenings an EVENT, not just a night at the movies. Included in the price of admission are little props and signature items that add to the fun. Last night was not exception with a Will Wonka button. Alamo loves to give these out,; I also have a Samantha Baker/Molly Ringwald pin from 16 Candles and a Westley and Buttercup pin from Princess Bride. Inside the theater at each seat, there was a “Candy Pack” for each patron. The pack included various candies to enhance the movie experience. Ms Cole and Mr Themmen explained the candies and each use to us during the pre-show chat. The pack included the following:
- Candy Buttons (you know the paper strip with the sugar circles on them) – to eat during the opening candy store scene
- Double Bubble bubble gum – to chew anytime violet chewed her gum. Ms Cole asked that we not stick it under our seats but rather behind our ears like Violet does
- Everlasting Gobstoppers – obviously for the Inventing Room scene
- Small gold chocolate ball – Ms Cole said we could eat it in the Chocolate room, but I think it was supposed to be a mini chocolate goose egg.
In addition, there were gold streamers to toss about during Veruca’s big number, “I Want It Now!”
During the preshow, our hosts gave us a few funny film things to look out. One was Veruca’s bloody knee in the edible room (she cut it on the rock she smashes her chocolate water melon on). Another, Augustus Galoop’s weird wall sliding when they all enter and get squished in the black and white hall to the Chocolate Room. My new favorite since I never noticed until the pointed it out, the young girl who gets hit in the face with the counter at the candy shop. It happens right after the flashing lollipops; Bill the Candyman fills a soda and then walks over and flips the counter up)
After the film, there was a lengthy Q&A session with the stars. People asked things like “Was Gene Wilder Nice?” Yes! “Did you do your own stunts?” Yes! Mr Themmen got the explosive candy in one take, although he wanted more, and 13-year-old Ms Cole got to drop in to the arms of a 16-year-old hunky stage hand when she set off the “educated eggdecator” (personally I wouldn’t mind being a bad egg in that scenario!) However, the burning question on everyone’s mind is “What the heck is a bean feast?!?” Well it turns out, a bean feast is an English saying meaning “The best of everything” as Ms Cole generously explained. Although she was not entirely sure the background of it, perhaps having to do with the harvest, but it is a very popular question amongst fans.
After the Q&A, we were all given autographed copies of Willy Wonka posters designed for the event and had the opportunity to take photos with Ms Cole and Mr Themmen. This is one area where the Alamo could improve on. Leaving the theater and getting the poster was a bit of a cluster@&?$! Some people receive posters in the theater from servers, those who didn’t, were handed them as they left the theater, and sadly some people were being a bit greedy and taking extra posters. The line for the photos were blocking people trying to leave, as well as the servers who were trying to get through the crowd to deliver food to other theaters. The few extra server handing out posters at the door, didn’t seem to know where the line started/ended, and if you just wanted to leave or go to the potty, it was a challenge to get past the mob. The staff may want to work out a better plan for this part of the program, however, overall the event was a magical evening for everyone in attendance!
I’m planning on attending the another special event later in the month (something to do with The Princess Bride and a certain farm boy turned Dread Pirate), so be sure to keep checking back here on the Souzapalooza Blog to hear all about it!