After three years of waiting in the wings, the Missoula Community Theatre lifts the curtain on “Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical,” April 27-May 14 at the MCT Center for the Performing Arts.
Matilda was originally scheduled as the finale of the 2019-2020 season; the music had been learned and rehearsals were underway when everything was shut down due to the COVID pandemic. MCT has been working ever since to find the right time to bring this internationally acclaimed production to the stage — that time has arrived!
There’s a saying that ‘anticipation does not lessen delight’ which held true when nearly 150 children and adults attended the open audition for Matilda in February. The creative team is made up of co-directors Joseph Martinez and Rosie Seitz Ayers, music director Arielle Nachtigal and choreographer Paisley Thornton.
The show runs for three weeks, so Martinez decided to cast two young actors to share the responsibility of carrying the title role. Starring as Matilda on alternating performances throughout the run are Julianna Heintz (11) and Vaida Hoffman (10). Both are making their Missoula Community Theatre debut, along with 24 other cast members out of the 42 total onstage actors.
Two actors will reprise their 2020 roles: Frances Connery (Miss Honey) and Jarrett Heintz (the Doctor). Jarrett Heintz is the real-life father of one of the Matildas (Julianna), making this a true ‘family show.’
Based on the 1988 novel by Roald Dahl (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach), “Matilda the Musical” (rated PG) is a Tony Award-winning show with music and lyrics by Tim Minchin and book by Dennis Kelly. Young, precocious heroine Matilda Wormwood lives with abusive parents (played by Reese Sheldahl and Jadi Curtis) and endures the cruel headmistress of her school, Miss Trunchbull (Scoob Decker). Matilda’s love of books and the kindness of Miss Honey helps her escape unhappiness.
Roald Dahl’s wildly-creative imagination provides a series of whirlwind, fantastical events, with Matilda discovering she possesses telekinetic power (a hypothetical ability to influence external objects or events without the use of physical energy), including using it to dye her father’s hair (“naughty”) among other, well, naughty tricks.
She and her classmates rebel against Miss Trunchbull (“Revolting Children”), share their hopes for a better future (“When I Grow Up”) and eventually Matilda finds justice and happiness.
According to Martinez, there’s so much to unpack in this show with its compelling story, lively dance numbers and incredible music. “The thrill of hearing these young cast members belt out the songs is overwhelming,” he says. “Many times, I’ve thought the actors were listening to the original cast recording, when in fact, I walked into the room, and it was our cast doing the singing!”
Music Theatre International, from whom MCT receives the rights, calls Matilda “a joyous girl power romp. Children and adults alike will be thrilled and delighted by the story of the special little girl with an extraordinary imagination.”
Performances are 7:30 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays and 2 and 6:30 p.m. Sundays, April 28-May 14, with a special Premiere Night April 27. Tickets are available at www.MCTinc.org, by calling (406) 728-7529 (PLAY) or at the MCT Box Office, from noon to 5 p.m. weekdays.