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Young cast rocks Matilda the Musical

The cast of Matilda the Musical brought down the house during its opening weekend at Grove Hall in Huntingdon The touring production has now moved on to Hinchinbrooke with stops to come in Saint Anicet and Franklin There are still tickets available but they are going fast photo S Rennie

 

Sarah Rennie

Matilda the Musical marks another out-of-the-park success for the creative team at the Rural Arts Project.

The mobile production, now into the second week of a month-long Valley tour, will no doubt charm audiences with its riotously enjoyable songs, slightly subversive storyline and feisty spirit carried mainly by a cast of young adults and children so superbly choreographed it is simply a blast to watch.

From the very start, the main character Matilda weaves a magical spell over the audience, masterfully spun by the three exceptional talents playing the title role (Océane Laberge, Lyndsay MacKay and Hailey Cartier). A precocious young girl with a love of reading and powerful imagination, Matilda must contend with the warped adults in her life, from her crooked car salesman of a father (Avery Erskine) who can’t quite accept she is a girl, to her obnoxious ballroom dancer mother (Valerie Tsimondis-Gougon) who absolutely loathes her love of books, to the evil headmaster at her school, Mrs. Trunchbull (the hilarious Katherine MacKay), who simply despises all children. With the help of an exuberant local librarian Mrs. Phelps (Jacki Garceau) and sympathetic teacher Miss Honey (Dakota Adams and Ellie moss), Matilda and her powerful mind overcome all obstacles for a happy ending to what is at times a dark story (fans of Roald Dahl would expect nothing less).

Young but familiar cast

“I am very proud,” says Director Tina Bye, noting how so many of the cast are performing in their first large-scale production. Bye is also particularly thrilled there is a significant number of cast members who took part in the first Performing Arts Day Camp held at Grove Hall in 2014. “It’s exciting to see how many familiar faces from then are starring on this stage today,” she says, adding that she is especially impressed at how well the cast has come together and taken ownership of the production. “They are killing it.”

For 11-year-old Océane Laberge, who plays Matilda, the musical is her first foray into acting in front of an audience. “My mom signed me up,” says Laberge, suggesting that while she wasn’t sure at first, the auditions and rehearsals convinced her that her mom had made the right decision. “It’s an amazing cast,” she exclaims. “I’ve made so many friends and we all get along. I want to do it again next year,” adds Laberge, who admits that with a few shows under her belt, she has definitely caught the bug.

One could easily say the same about every member of the cast in that they all embody their roles naturally, and genuinely appear to be having a lot of fun on stage. This only adds to the enchanted atmosphere generated under the big top, as Matilda and her classmates orchestrate an exhilarating revolution built on the power of literacy, storytelling and imagination.

A crowd pleaser

“It was really good,” says Patrick Maguire, who came from Russell, Ontario to take in the show with his young family. “It was a really good demonstration of local talent and inspiring young people. They put a lot of hard work into creating a really entertaining production,” he notes, adding that he was surprised by the calibre of the production.

Matilda the Musical is playing at Rennie’s Farm in Hinchinbrooke on Saturday, July 20, before moving on to Saint-Anicet for three shows on Friday, July 26 and Saturday, July 27. The last stop on the tour is at Brooks’ Farm in Franklin, where the final three shows will take place on Friday, August 2 and Saturday, August 3. The Friday performances start at 7 pm, while there are 2 pm matinees followed by 7 pm performances on Saturday.

Tickets are still available for all of the show, but are going fast. Reserve your seats online at grovehall.ca or by calling 450-374-1672.

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