The streets will be filled by the smell of rebellion in April when The Spartan Lyrical Society and Severna Park Middle School (SPMS) present Roald Dahl’s “Matilda the Musical Jr.” Based on the beloved book by Dahl and adapted from the award-winning full-length musical, it tells the story of an extraordinary girl who dares to take a stand and change her own destiny.
Elle LaBrier, the talented sixth-grader who plays Matilda, has enjoyed being in her first production at SPMS. “Matilda is such a fun character to play because she is a kid but is strong and powerful like adults,” Elle said. “She stands up for what is right! I also love working with the talented directors and cast members and have made so many new friends!”
Destiny Felder, who plays Matilda’s mom, Mrs. Wormwood, shares Elle’s enthusiasm and joy in being a part of this production. “It’s wonderful to be back onstage. It feels like life is getting back to normal,” she said. “I love working with so many amazing actors and singers; you won’t believe their phenomenal voices and abilities! And I have to say we have the best team to guide and teach us: our fantastic director Mr. [David] Merrill, music director Mrs. [Sara] Metcalfe, and choreographer Mrs. [Elysia] Merrill.”
“Matilda Jr.” features a book by Dennis Kelly and music and lyrics by Tim Minchin. The show opened on the West End in 2011 and made its Broadway premiere in 2013. The musical earned seven Olivier Awards, including Best New Musical, and five Tony awards, including the Tony for Best Book of a Musical.
Matilda, a little girl with astonishing wit, intelligence and psychokinetic powers, lives with cruel parents who find her to be a nuisance, a lousy little worm, and a bore. When Matilda enters her first term at school, she captures the attention of Miss Honey, a kind teacher, and the two form a wonderful friendship. Unfortunately, the school is ruled by a tempestuous and mean headmistress named Miss Trunchbull, who hates children and delivers cruel and unjust punishments to all her charges. Matilda is determined to change her story, but will her cleverness and courage be enough to withstand the reign of Miss Trunchbull?
David Merrill has the huge undertaking as the director this year and answered a few questions about the show.
Q: Why did you choose Matilda?
A: “Matilda Jr.” will be the first “live” production at Severna Park Middle School since COVID, and everyone is so excited to experience the magic once again. And what better show to kick off this new season than “Matilda Jr!” It has beautiful music directed by Sara Metcalfe, incredible choreography, choreographed by Elysia Merrill, beautiful sets, stunning costumes, oh, and not to mention, some incredibly talented kids! And that is what this show is about it - it’s about kids having the chance to just be kids, which is something they have sort of missed out on these past two years.
We wanted to give these kids the opportunity to be part of a community once again, and this show encapsulates that - community. It’s a community of young people that come together, and stand up for one another through adversity, through bullying, and through challenging times.
It’s a show about teamwork, kindness, friendship and yes… magic! And even though the character of Matilda develops amazing magical abilities throughout the show, moving cups with her eyes, and creating words with her mind, the true magic lives on through each one of these actors and actresses, who have waited so long to light up the stage once again. These kids are just incredible, as is said in the musical, “Even if you are little, you can do a lot!” - and they sure do!
Q: What do you think the audience will connect with the most about the musical?
A: The first thing audiences will connect with is the joy of being back in the theater at Severna Park Middle School. The Spartan Lyrical Society (SLS) is an incredible booster program at the middle school, and I know for many, having SLS back will give a feeling of normalcy to the community. Having the opportunity to mount a musical theater production again is what we’ve all been waiting for! Musical theater is a part of all of us, it brings magic into our hearts - and this show, in particular, is incredibly magical.
I truly hope people will connect with this magic. It could be the physical magic of Matilda on the stage, maybe the magic of seeing young people perform, or simply the magical chills of sitting in the audience waiting for the curtain to open. Whatever it may be, when the audience walks through those doors, they will experience this magic, which will bring light into the darkness and create a world of awe, mystery, excitement and wonder. I hope the magic of Matilda connects to our audiences and brings them comfort and hope - something that we all so deserve. Many thanks to these young people, and everyone who is working so hard in bringing this magic to the stage at SPMS.
Q: How proud of this cast/crew are you?
A: These young people are amazing. I mean they're not just talented, with beautiful voices, but they're kind, considerate and respectful. It speaks wonders of the environment and education that Severna Park Middle School is providing our young people. The teachers at SPMS should be truly commended on their incredible job, nurturing and educating these kids. I know when the show goes up, and we turn the show over to be completely run by the middle school students, we will be in great hands!
Q: What type of reaction do you expect from the audience?
A: Hopefully there will be quite a few belly laughs. But more than laughs, I hope, when the curtain first opens, that the audience is in awe and notices the amount of work that went into creating this experience. Of course, every show that is put on anywhere requires an immense amount of work, but SPMS is different; they do their best to offer an excellent and professional experience for all involved. With 48 actors/actresses on the stage, I hope the audience acknowledges the team behind each of the aspects: costumes, makeup, hair, set, lights, dance, music, props, paint, publicity, etc. SPMS makes sure the experience, in all aspects of theater, is excellent and rewarding for all involved.
The Spartan Lyrical Society and Severna Park Middle School will present Roald Dahl’s “Matilda the Musical Jr.” on April 1 at 7:00pm, April 2 at 2:00pm and 7:00pm, and April 3 at 2:00pm. Tickets are available for purchase online at www.spmssings.org.
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