Chaska, Minnesota | 18 November, 2019 | (952) 448-2650
More Weather
The Gulden ticket
by Unsie Zuege
Jul 28, 2011 | 1142 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Thaddeus Gulden as Willy Wonka waves from the CVFT’s Fourth of July float, promoting the show.
Thaddeus Gulden as Willy Wonka waves from the CVFT’s Fourth of July float, promoting the show.
When Thaddeus Gulden showed up to audition for the role of Willy Wonka in Chaska Valley Family Theatre’s summer musical “Willy Wonka,” Director Kelly Jeremiason knew Gulden had the look for the eccentric, wacky and mercurial candy impresario. Gulden’s naturally reddish orange hair, long, skinny frame and a mobile face that could be charming and sincere, and in an instant, creepy and sinister.

Putting on a summer community theater production can be challenging, Jeremiason said. Vacations, trips to the cabin, and out-door activities take precedence over rehearsals and putting on a show.

“It’s more difficult to get auditions in summer, Jeremiason said. “I’ve pushed for us to do a kids show in summer, and this year we did. That made it easier. We auditioned 170 and have a cast of 80. Normally [in summer] we don’t get anywhere near 170 to audition. Getting 80 would have been a good number.”

But back to Gulden.

“He was a new person that showed up,” Jeremiason said. “Out of the 170 auditioning for parts, we had some really good Willy possibilities.”

Gulden was a cast member in several high school productions at Eden Prairie High School, but never had a lead. After graduat-ing in 2006, he attended Brown College in Minneapolis and earned a degree in broadcasting. But he’s also expert in computers, and currently works in IT for a Twin Cities company.

“It made for a long night of casting decisions,” Jeremiason said. “Finally, we said, ‘Let’s give him a chance.’”


Gulden’s younger sister Emma has appeared in CVFT’s before.

“She’s been in CVFT productions, and said ‘You should come along.’” Gulden said. “I’ve been interested in acting and I’ve been taking private acting lessons when I can afford them. So I came in with high hope for the part of Willy but I was apprehensive to audition. I’m not the most charismatic guy.

“But I’ve loved “Willy Wonka” for a long time,” Gulden said. “When I was a kid, “Willy Wonka” was the first video I had. I must have watched the Gene Wilder version 90 times. I thought the part would be a good fit for me.”

Gulden has some good coaching to fall back on. His older brother Josiah Gulden is a professional actor who is currently appear-ing in “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” at the Jungle Theater in Minneapolis. As an Equity actor, he plans to move to New York to pursue his career. “He’s is an amazing trained opera singer, too,” Gulden said. “He’s been helping me on the vocals, and developing the character.”


The show has spectacular special effects including a glass elevator, and characters flying through the air.

CVFT is working with ZFX Flying Effects, a Tennessee-based company that provides the stage “flying” assistance.

“It’s the same company that flies Cathy Rigby in “Peter Pan,” Jeremiason said. “We used them when [CVFT] did ‘Peter Pan.’ Most theaters choose not to do the flying parts, and it’s not in the script. But ZFX has been doing this for a while in a lot of shows. They’re also bringing the glass elevator which is part of Willy Wonka’s candy factory.”

ZFX arrives on Friday, July 22 to install the equipment and provide instruction to the actors and stage hands. The show opens July 28. Don’t miss out on your golden ticket to an evening of Oompa Loompas, squirrels and everything satisfying and delicious.

Willy Wonka

“Willy Wonka,” the musical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s children’s book “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

Where: Chaska High School Theater, 545 Pioneer Trail, Chaska.

When: Opens July 28 and runs through Aug. 7.

How: For show times and dates, go to

Tickets: $15 for adults, $10 for youth 17 and under.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
No Comments Yet
Stay Connected Facebook Twitter RSS Email Minnesota Business Directory Edible Communities Local Jobs Garage Sales ThriftMart Events Calendar Ending Image