Atmore native to lead ‘Willy Wonka’ this weekend

Published 1:46 pm Thursday, July 20, 2017

Atmore native Perry Jones is playing the lead character in Roald Dahl’s “Willy Wonka,” which is being presented by the Brewton Town and Gown Players.

The play is directed by Stephen Billy and will run from July 20-23 nightly at 7, and then at 2 p.m. on Sunday.

Jones is playing the lead character of Wonka, a chocloteer who is retiring and trying to find his replacement.

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As seen in the films, “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” the play follows Wonka and his contest winners.

For Jones, the story is all about one’s background not defining the future and good actions and not being greedy will win in the end.

Jones said it takes a lot to be Wonka.

“Because it is an iconic role, there are certain things that are to be expected, but at the same time I don’t want to copy someone else,” he said. “I just kind of like being and working my own character while using some of the things Gene Wilder and Johnny Depp used. It’s about getting into the mind of the character and going from there.”

Fifty-five cast members make up the production of “Willy Wonka.”

The most iconic characters of the films were the Umpa Lumpas.

Jones said children are playing most of the Lumpas. Teenagers are doing more of the intricate dancing, he said.

Jones said he grew up in theater in Atmore and Brewton.

He went to Auburn University to study theater, and moved to New York and worked for a professional theater.

Jones then moved to Atlanta, Ga., where he received his master’s degree before going back to New York again.

At present, Jones lives in Pensacola, Fla., and is the educational director at the Pensacola Theater.

“I knew a lot of people around here doing theater and is just kind of happened,” he said.

Playing Wonka isn’t his first lead role in a production.

Jones has played the lead roles in “Joseph the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” as the banker in “Into the Woods,” and was in “Beauty and the Beast,” among other productions.

He said he loves theater because of the human connection.

“You can go see a move and that’s great, but sitting there and watching people do something live is great,” he said. “You can feel that energy.”

This fall, Jones will be in the production of “To Kill A Mockingbird.”

Tickets for “Willy Wonka” cost $12 for adults 12 and over and $10 for children 12 and under. Tickets can be purchased at, at the door one hour prior to each performance, the Brewton Standard and Brewton City Hall.