Neil A. Casey

Grandpa Joe

Neil A Casey* returns to the Wheelock Family Theatre after appearing as Frog in A Year With Frog and Toad. Other Boston credits include work at The Huntington Theatre, SpeakEasy Stage, Greater Boston Stage and The Lyric Stage Company of Boston. Mr. Casey has also been a company member of the long running Shear Madness for the past 20 years. Mr. Casey earned his BFA in Theatre from Niagara University and his MFA in Acting from The Shakespeare Company at The George Washington University.

Aoife Brennan

Oompa Loompa

Aoife Brennan is a 13 year old actress living in Lexington, Massachusetts. She is so grateful and very excited to be making her professional debut in Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka with the Wheelock Family Theatre. Some of her favorite roles she has played include Annie in Annie; and Puck in a Midsummer Night’s Dream.  She would like to thank her family for everything they have ever done for her, her friends: Sarah, Berklie, Gabby, Adia and Ethan for supporting her in every way, and lastly, her coach Joe Walsh for helping her through everything.

Jackson Daly

Oompa Loompa

Jackson Daley is so excited to be in Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka this fall. He last appeared in Once on this Island and Beauty and the Beast at WFT. Some of his favorite shows that he’s been in are Frog and Toad (Wheelock), Big Fish (SpeakEasy) and Showboat (Fiddlehead). Jackson is a freshman at Brookline High School and thanks his family, dog, Stephanie and everyone at Wheelock.

Timmy Duggan

Oompa Loompa

Timmy Duggan is 14 and excited to be in his first Wheelock Family Theatre production. Timmy is a freshman at Reading Memorial High School. He has been in many shows including Honk! (Ugly); Beauty and the Beast (Chip); Freaky Friday (Louis); The Lion King (Storyteller); Shrek (Baby Bear); Annie (FDR), and more. Timmy was also part of his middle school’s a capella group and select chorus. He also participated in the Junior District Winter Festival. Timmy thanks his family for their support!

Russell Garrett


returns to WFT@BU where he was previously seen in Alice as The Mad Hatter and The Secret Garden as Uncle Archibald. He also directed and choreographed WFT@BU’s hit production of Mary Poppins. He has appeared extensively on tour and on Broadway in The Scarlet Pimpernel, 42nd Street, Show Boat, My Fair Lady and others. In Boston he has appeared as The Interlocutor in SpeakEasy Stage’s award-winning The Scottsboro Boys, eight years as Bob Cratchit in North Shore Music Theatre’s A Christmas Carol, Emperor Joseph ll in Amadeus at New Rep, and several shows at Greater Boston Stage Co. including 42nd Street, Dames at Sea, How to Succeed…, and Something’s Afoot. Russell comes directly from Sierra Repertory Theatre in CA where he directed A Chorus Line as well as played the director, Zach, and will follow James with an appearance in SpeakEasy’s The View Upstairs.

Ricardo "Ricky" Holguin

Willy Wonka

is thrilled to be making his debut at Wheelock Family Theatre. He obtained his M.F.A. in Musical Theatre from The Boston Conservatory. Conservatory credits include Assassins, The Light in the Piazza, and HAIR. Boston credits include 1776, Man of La Mancha, Fiddler on the Roof directed by Austin Pendleton (New Repertory Theatre), Altar Boyz (Stoneham Theatre), Kiss of the Spider Woman, LaChiusa’s The Wild Party (Moonbox Productions, IRNE Award Nomination for Best Supporting Actor), and Guys and Dolls (Reagle Music Theatre). Other credits include The Who’s Tommy, and Shrek the Musical (Laredo Theater Guild International). Ricky also had the privilege to be praised and workshopped by Richard Maltby, David Shire, Didi Conn, and Tony Award Winner, Adam Guettel. Ricky is a native from Laredo, Texas and currently resides in East Boston.

Lisa Kate Joyce

Mrs. Bucket/Mrs. Gloop

Lisa Kate Joyce is a Boston native who can’t wait to dive into a world of pure imagination this fall! Previous credits include The Man Who Came to Dinner; Laughter on the 23rd Floor; The Producers; Spamalot (Barnstormers Theatre); The Salonnieres (Greater Boston Stage Company); Our Dear Dead Drug Lord (Off The Grid); The Broadway Jukebox (Brown Box Theatre Project); and Once Upon a Mattress (FPAC, Hackmatack Playhouse). She is also touring with Flying Lessons- an original shadow puppet show!

Chelsea Kerl

Costume Designer

Chelsea Kerl is a Boston based freelance artist; she received her MFA in Costume Design from Boston University and earned degrees in both Theatre and English from the University of Maryland.  Select recent productions include- Wheelock Family Theatre: Willy Wonka, James and the Giant Peach, and Gooney Bird Greene and Her True Life Adventures;  SpeakEasy Stage Company/Front Porch Arts Collective: Pass Over; Company One/American Repertory Theatre: Greater Good; Actors’ Shakespeare Project/Lyric Stage Company of Boston: Twelfth Night; and New Repertory Theatre: Straight White Men.  Chelsea is also the costume shop manager, resident costume designer, and costume design professor at Wellesley College and Wellesley Repertory Theatre, and she often works in the costume shop of the American Repertory Theatre. More of her work can be seen at

Jamie Leslie

Charlie Bucket

Jamie Leslie, 14, is a freshman at Brookline High School. He has been involved in musical theater productions since sixth grade, when he starred as Oliver Warbucks in his middle school production of Annie. His other roles include Aladdin in Aladdin and Jack Kelly in Newsies. He thanks his parents for the opportunities they continue to give on his musical theater journey.


Ava Kathryn Lyons

Oompa Loompa

is grateful to have this wonderful opportunity! She is a focused and creative student, a supportive friend, and a great big sister. Main stage credits include Seussical, Big, The Trumpet of the Swan, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, A Little Princess, Annie, The Wizard of Oz, and numerous children’s productions. Ava loves singing, dancing, guitar, songwriting, soccer, and spending time with her two dogs and rabbit. Big thanks to family, friends, cast, and staff.

Rania Mankodi

Oompa Loompa

Rania Mankodi is a seventh grader at Buckingham Browne and Nichols School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She is 12 years old and has a younger brother. Outside of school, Rania is part of the Voices Boston children’s chorus, plays piano and tennis, and takes Bharatanatyam, Indian classical dance classes at Triveni School of Dance. She is also part of the Entrepreneurship Club. Rania is glad to be back at Wheelock Family Theatre after previously taking acting and improv classes and is so happy to be part of this production of Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka.

Michael Mansour

Augustus Gloop

Michael Mansour is thrilled to perform in Wheelock Family Theatre’s Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka. As having just finished eating all the cake as “Bruce” in Matilda, his stomach is ready to jump into the gluttonous role of Augustus Gloop. Michael is 11 years old and in 6th grade. Some favorite rolls include Bruce, Matilda; Charlie Brown, You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown, Michael Hobbs, Elf; Young MacDuff/Fleance, Macbeth; Small Boy, Billy Elliot; and Arthur Lambchop, Flat Stanley. Michael is looking forward to the fall release of his first podcast “Wordtastic” where he saves the world from evil villains! What he loves most about performing are the new friendships he forms with the different casts and the new experiences it brings him. When not performing Michael enjoys swimming, dancing, and making silly videos with his sister!  Michael would like to thank his teachers for their support, brother and sister for their extra help with school work as he heads into middle school and his parents for being his chauffeurs and constant supports. Michael can’t wait to get started on this next adventure!

Ben Miner

Oompa Loompa

Ben is euphoric to be making his return to the Wheelock stage, where he was last seen in the Summer Intensive’s The Wiz! Jr. (Cowardly Lion). Other credits include The Girl who was asked to Turn Blue (Number One); 42nd street Jr (Andy Lee); Dorothy in Wonderland (Tin Man) and Once Upon a Mattress (Mute King). Ben would like to dedicate his performance to his friends (especially camp friends), family and wonderful teachers, and many many thanks to the entire cast and crew for this incredible opportunity.

Anabel Moda

Oompa Loompa

Anabel is so excited to be back at WFT where she was last seen in Charlotte’s Web and Billy Elliot in 2017. Since then, Anabel has been seen in Billy Elliot (Tracey) at Seacoast Rep; A Christmas Carol (Belinda) at North Shore Music Theatre; 13 (Patrice), Thoroughly…Millie (Rita), and Matilda (Mrs. Wormwood) with Stagedoor Manor; and Joseph…Dreamcoat (Choir) and Carousel (Snow Child) with Reagle Music Theatre. She also can be seen as the title role in an upcoming short film for SUNY Purchase. Thanks to my parents, Grammy, and the whole cast and team of Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka!

Gary Thomas Ng

Grandpa George/Phienous Trout

is happy to be back at Wheelock. He recently appeared in Allegiance (SpeakEasy), Hold These Truths (Lyric Stage), and Beauty and the Beast (WFT). Other favorite credits include Miss Saigon (Ogunquit Playhouse and Foothills), Children of Eden (NSMT), Sideshow (Lyric Stage), Billy Elliot (WFT), and the Far East tour of Cole Porter’s Aladdin. Up next: 1776 at New Rep. Gary is also a photographer whose works include production photos for Ogunquit Playhouse, Gloucester Stage, and WFT@BU.

Brendan O'Brien

Oompa Loompa

Brendan O’Brien is thrilled to return to WFT@BU after playing James in James in the Giant Peach last spring! Previous Boston credits include Merrily We Roll Along (IRNE Nomination, Huntington Theatre Company), Richard III (Commonwealth Shakespeare Company), appropriate (SpeakEasy Stage Company), Show Boat (Fiddlehead Theatre Company), State of Siege (Theatre de la Ville/ArtsEmerson) and a number of shows with Boston Children’s Theatre. Brendan is 12 years old and a Boston Public Schools’ seventh grader at the Condon School in South Boston. He would like to thank everyone at WFT@BU especially Emily, Nathan and Russell and his family and friends for all their love and support.

Lily Park

Violet Beauregarde

is ecstatic to be back on the Wheelock stage where she was last seen in the teen intensive’s Mockingbird (Brianna) and Beauty and the Beast (Youth Ensemble). Other credits include School of Rock, Seussical (Jojo), Annie Jr. (Annie), Billy Elliot (Ballet Girl), Aladdin Jr. (Genie),  Peter Pan (Great Big Little Panther), and much more. Many thanks to the entire cast and crew for this amazing opportunity and much love to Mom, Dad, Hannah and Sebastian for the endless support!

Emily Ranii


Emily serves as Artistic Director of Wheelock Family Theatre at BU, Academic Program Head of BU’s Summer Theatre Institute (BUSTI), and Lecturer for BU’s Opera Institute. She has directed Sweets by Kate, The Cradle Will Rock, and Hydrogen Jukebox for Boston University; Mrs. Packard for Bridge Repertory Theatre Company/Playhouse Creatures Theatre Company; Tongue of a Bird for New Repertory Theatre; 9 Parts of Desire for Playmakers Repertory Company; The Normal Heart, Heisenberg, Romeo and Juliet, Brigadoon, Much Ado About Nothing, and The Love Song of J. Robert Oppenheimer for Burning Coal Theatre Company (Company Member since 2002); as well as Blood Wedding and The Body Project for Cornell University. Emily has collaborated as an Associate Director on World of Wires at MIT and Live Video Editor on Persona with Beth Morrison Projects, both productions adapted and directed by Jay Scheib. Previous arts leadership/teaching positions include Assistant Professor of Performing Arts at Wheelock College, Visiting Lecturer at Cornell University, and Artistic Director of ArtsCenter Stage in Carrboro, North Carolina. Emily holds an M.F.A. in Directing from Boston University and a B.A. in Theatre Arts and English from Cornell University.

Jimmy Rotondo

Scenic Designer

James F. Rotondo III is currently pursuing his Masters of Fine Arts in Scene Design at Boston University, where he also earned his undergraduate degree. This is his first show with Wheelock Family Theatre. Other design work includes Hansel and Gretel Studio Tour (The Atlanta Opera); The Queen of Spades, Noah’s Flood, Stomping Grounds, and Scalia/Ginsburg (Glimmerglass Opera); as well as shows locally at Boston University, New Repertory Theatre, Central Square Theater, and Rhode Island College. Upcoming shows include The Rake’s Progress with Boston University and La Calisto with New England Conservatory. Instagram:jfriii_designs

Leo Ruckenstein

Mike TV

Leo Ruckenstein (Mike Teavee) is thrilled to be back for another season at WFT, where he was last seen in the Teen Intensive production of “Once on this Island” (ensemble.) Other credits include WFT’s Stuart Little (ensemble,) “Urinetown” (Hot Blades Harry,) “13” (Archie,) “The Urban Nutcracker” (Omar,) “Ben’s Trumpet” (Ben,) and more. An avid theater lover, Leo has studied dance with the Boston Ballet and Tony Williams Dance Company. Leo is grateful for the opportunity to work with this amazing cast and crew and would like to dedicate this performance to his Grandfather, who shares his love for the theater.

Carolyn Saxon

Grandma Georgina/Mrs. Beauregarde

Broadway/National Tours/NY Theatre: The Civil War, Bring In Da Noise, Bring In Da Funk, Hair, Purlie, Can-Can, Linda Eder: The Christmas Concert, NYIFF. Film: Sweet & Lowdown, Small Time Crooks, Curse of the Jade Scorpion. Boston Theatre: black odyssey boston (Central Square Theatre) 1776 – (New Repertory Theatre), Ragtime (Wheelock Family Theater), The Wiz (Lyric Stage Company), Shakespeare in Love, Violet, The Color Purple, In the Heights, Far From Heaven (SpeakEasy Stage), Brother Nat (Emerson Paramount Center). Regional: North Shore Music Theatre, Connecticut Repertory, Papermill Playhouse NJ, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Weston Playhouse, Forestburgh Playhouse, Studio Arena Theatre, Artpark, MusicalFare, and Struthers Library Theatre. Other: Boston Pops Gospel Choir (Featured Soloist), Carnegie Hall, Teatro Colon, Buffalo Philharmonic, Indianapolis Symphony, Sharing a New Song, NEC Millennium Choir, Boston Community Choir.

Alex Smith

Assistant Director

Alexandra Smith (Assistant Director) is a multi-hyphenate theatre artist and educator. She is a cofounder of Boston indie theatre company Also Known As Theatre, for which she directed their productions of A Good Death (world premiere) and Extremities.  Past collaborations include projects with Open Theatre Project, Zeitgeist Stage Company, Fort Point Theatre Channel, Praxis Stage, Shotz Boston, Playwrights Platform, Bad Habit Productions, and the One-Minute Play Festival, among others. Alex is also a Teaching Artist for American Repertory Theater, Boston Shakespeare Project, Company One, and Watertown Children’s Theatre, and an Actor-Educator for Deana’s Educational Theatre.  She is a graduate of Emerson College and Rhode Island College.

Emilia Tagliani

Oompa Loompa

is thrilled to be returning to Wheelock Family Theatre at BU. She is from the North Shore and is a 9th grader. Recent credits include North Shore Music Theatre’s A Christmas Carol (Martha Cratchit-2019 & Fan-2017), Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka Musical (Ensemble), Broken Leg Production’s Amelie (Young Amelie), Acting Out Production’s 13 The Musical (Patrice), and Greater Boston Stage Young Company’s Beauty & the Beast (Belle). Many thanks to the amazing cast and crew of Little Women: The Broadway Musical, and much love to Mom, Dad, Luca and Alex for the endless support!

Nathan Urdangen

Music Director

Nathan Urdangen (Music Director) is thrilled to be making his mainstage debut here at Wheelock, after having previously music directed Once on This Island Jr. and Into the Woods with the Wheelock Teen Ensemble, as well as the Boston Children’s Museum collaboration Elephant and Piggie’s ‘We Are In a Play’. He has also recently music directed at Theatre By the Sea in Rhode Island and the Laurie Beechman Theater in New York, among others. Recent non-Wheelock credits include Mamma Mia, Chicago, Singin’ in the Rain and Seussical. He is currently a staff accompanist at the Boston Conservatory and Northeastern University, as well as a composer at the BMI Lehman-Engel Musical Theatre Workshop. Nathan is extremely impressed with all the work this cast and crew has put into bringing this iconic story to life, and would like to thank everyone involved for this experience.

Lauren Velasco-O'Donovan

Oompa Loompa

Lauren is 12 years old and is in 7th grade at Johnson Middle School in Walpole. She became involved in theatre four years ago when she joined Bay Colony Performing Arts in Foxborough. She blossomed under the guidance of Cailin Dyke and Colin Sullivan. She has performed in numerous productions: Alice in Wonderland; Willy Wonka; Shrek; Sleeping Beauty; Annie; The Lion King; Newsies; Peter Pan; Moana and Suessical. She was a member of the MA state treble chorus. She is an Access Broadway Platinum winner & overall soloist winner (04/19). She partakes in theatre, jazz, tap & ballet classes and singing lessons. Lauren loves theatre and comes alive on stage. She has made the best of friends through theatre as they all love and support each other. Lauren loves to travel and attend Broadway productions. Her dream is to one day make it to Broadway.

Carly Williams

Veruca Salt

Carly Williams (Veruca Salt) is excited to be back at Wheelock Family Theater where she previously performed in Charlotte’s Web and A Year with Frog and Toad. Favorite past roles include Small Alison in Fun Home at Cape Rep; Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird at Gloucester Stage (2018 IRNE Nomination – Promising Young Performer); Mary Lennox in The Secret Garden at Riverside Theatre Works and Young Cosette in Les Miserables at North Shore Music Theatre. She is grateful to Emily and Nick and the entire WTF@BU team for giving her this amazing opportunity. Special thanks to Eli Bigelow and Douglas Jabara. Love to Mom, Dad, and her three brothers.

Renee Yancey

Stage Manager

Renee E. Yancey is pleased to make her Wheelock Family Theatre debut. Originally from Texas, Renee spent 10 years based in the Washington, D.C., area where she performed stage, production, and events management for Olney Theatre Center, Studio Theatre, theatre Washington/Helen Hayes Awards, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Velocity DC, and AFI Silver Spring. New England-area work includes Stage Manager for Frankenstein (Central Square Theater); Heartland and Ripe Frenzy (New Repertory Theatre); and The Fantasticks (Opera House Arts) and Production Manager for Cymbeline and Richard III (Commonwealth Shakespeare Company). Renee is a Lecturer and Head of Management for the CFA School of Theatre at Boston University. Education: BFA Texas State University; MFA Boston University

Lisa Yuen

Grandma Josephine/Ms. TV

previous WFT@BU credits include “Mary Poppins” in Mary Poppins, “Mrs. Little” in Stuart Little, and “Glinda” in The Wizard of Oz.  Boston area credits include Lyric Stage, North Shore Music Theatre, Theatre by the Sea and New Rep. Other credits include 7.5 years on Broadway (Miss Saigon and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.), 4 national tours, Off-Broadway, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, regional theatre (including Paper Mill Playhouse, The MUNY, PCLO, and Sacramento Music Circus) and TV/film (including 23 episodes as “Rachel” on All My Children, Body of Proof, The Martha Stewart Show, World Trade Center). Brookline mom to twins.  BA from UCLA. Thanks to Mom, Kevin, family and friends.

Matthew Zahnzinger

Mr. Bucket/Mr. Salt

Matthew Zahnzinger is delighted to make his Wheelock Family Theatre premiere in such a classic story. A Brockton native and four-time IRNE winner, Matthew has also worked with Moonbox Productions, the Nora Theatre, Lyric Stage, Reagle Music Theatre, Titanic Theatre, Bridge Repertory, Flat Earth Theatre, and Theater UnCorked, as well as the Peterborough Players (NH) and Lost Nation Theatre (VT). He is a contributing voiceover artist with the Penumbra Podcast and the Colonial Radio Theatre. A graduate of Northeastern University (B.A. – Theatre and English), Matthew has also studied at the Gaiety School of Acting (Dublin, Ireland).