By PAM JOHNSON
The Jonesborough Repertory Theatre is excited to bring you the regional premiere of “Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical.” Based on the book “Matilda” by Dahl, this much anticipated show runs March 28 through April 14. Come meet a brave and compassionate girl who faces difficult trials but handles each with a dose of courage, a touch of cleverness, and a lot of heart.
Matilda is a bright, sweet, witty child who has every reason to hate a world that has treated her so cruelly. Her parents are horrendous and her school’s principal even worse. Yet she chooses not to view the world as an ugly place, but one of beauty. She sees people in the best light she possibly can, which, given her circumstances, isn’t an easy thing to do.
The story begins with Matilda being born to parents who do not want her. They already have a son and think their family complete. They don’t want to change anything from their normal. And Matilda’s normal is very different than they know how to deal with.
“Matilda is too smart for them,” said Shawn Hale, who plays Mr. Wormwood, Matilda’s father. “They don’t know how to take care of her, so they lash out. When you lash out, you tend to be mean.”
Lorrie Anderson, who plays Mrs. Wormwood, agreed. “She’s terrible,” she said of her character. “I’m so used to playing characters that are quite similar to me, but this character is so completely different. She’s crass, rude, and materialistic. And I’m not.”
However, somehow, Matilda turns out to be the opposite of her parents. She follows a different set of rules . . . or rather, one rule.
“I think the message of the show is to follow the Golden Rule,” said Millie Williams, who plays Matilda. “To treat others how you want to be treated. To be nice to each other because it’s a good thing to do.”
In spite of being mistreated and unloved, Matilda rises above that and becomes the hero of many.
“Because of the environment Matilda grew up in,” stated Kylie Green, who plays Matilda’s kind teacher, Miss Honey, “she has a very keen moral compass, and so she is always very sensitive to injustices. She has strong feelings about what’s right and what’s wrong. So she’s a champion of the underdog.”
Though it’s true that Matilda is a type of hero and helps others who are treated poorly, she also encourages them to fend for themselves. She believes strongly in standing up for oneself.
“Matilda does set about correcting all the wrongs that are around her,” said Lucas Schmidt, who plays the evil Miss Trunchbull, who traditionally is played by a man. “Yet, in one of her songs, she sings about how people are victims of fate. But also how they could have seized control and done something about it. She feels that though life may not seem fair, it’s up to you to do something about it.”
Though this show has strong themes and messages, it’s done in such an entertaining, funny, and lighthearted way, people will leave feeling very satisfied.
“It is really a heartwarming and touching story,” said the choreographer, Heather Allen, who also is in the ensemble. “The music is so fantastic and contemporary; very different than what we usually do here. We hope it will pull in another generation of kids who love the theatre.””
“Matilda The Musical” is written by Dennis Kelly with original songs by Tim Minchin. This show is directed by Jennifer Ross-Bernhardt and choreographed by Heather Allen. The sponsors are Monkee’s of Johnson City, Home Trust Bank, Wolfe Development, Ignacy Fonberg, Denny Dentistry, and Sonia King/Mary B. Martin.
Rounding out the cast are Vanessa Bushell, Chris Carroll, Abigail Chapman, Rachel Chapman, Stephen Cradic, Hollyn Dixon, Liz Dollar, Will Dollar, Mia Freemon, Ryan Gray, Joseph Gumina, Charles Landry, Kyle Mason, Tiffany Matthews, Tristan Matthews, Abby Raper, Rheagan Shelton, Sharon Squibb, and Elliott Tucker.
Show times are Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $16 general admission, $14 for students and seniors. The theatre is located at 125.5 West Main Street, Jonesborough. To purchase tickets, call the Historic Jonesborough Visitors Center at (423) 753-1010 or go online to www.jonesboroughtheatre.com.