The beloved childhood story of “Matilda” has come to life at Village Theatre this holiday season.
The Roald Dahl story, now a Broadway musical, has come to share the telekinetic magic and the swinging fun for its first regional premiere.
The musical’s narrative centers on Matilda Wormwood, a book-loving, 5-year-old girl who is neglected and mistreated by her obnoxious family. She overcomes adversity from her family and the cruel school principal through storytelling and her newly discovered telekinetic powers.
Director and choreographer Kathryn Van Meter said it’s been wonderful to work on the production, especially with such a young cast.
“One of the great things about doing Matilda is that we have such a large youth cast. Each youth role is played by two young actors,” she said. “It’s been so great to see their skills grow, and they just give everything their all…they’re completely uninhibited and it’s contagious.”
For most Village Theatre productions with an all-adult cast, preparation and rehearsals last for about six weeks. The youth cast has been preparing since June.
“We wanted to make sure our youth cast was prepared as much as possible. We did countless hours of choreography practice, singing and accent coaching,” Van Meter said.
Holly Reichert, 11, who plays one of the two Matildas, said preparing for the role was difficult as she had to learn how to speak with an English accent.
“It was hard to put my mind into being Matilda and acting like her sometimes. Sometimes Matilda does things I wouldn’t do, so that was a challenge,” she said. “But it was also hard to learn to speak Russian and do the entire show with a British accent.”
Shaunyce Omar plays the role of Mrs. Phelps, the librarian, who Matilda tells stories to. Omar has been nominated for several Gregory Awards and recently won Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Musical for her portrayal of Motormouth Maybelle in Village Theatre’s production of “Hairspray” in July.
Following “Hairspray,” Omar said she was excited to be a part of “Matilda,” because of her love of working with children.
“I’ve had so much fun here. Kathryn has created such an open environment for everyone… it’s like an artist’s playground,” she said. “The kids tackle these characters in such cool ways that it keeps you fresh and on your toes.”
Most of the children in “Matilda” are local to the area, such as Maddox Baker who plays Michael, Matilda’s older brother. This is Baker’s first professional show but he has performed in a few school plays. He is currently a junior at Issaquah High School.
“I’m really excited to be playing Michael, and I have enjoyed every minute being here,” he said.
“Matilda” debuted at the Issaquah Village Theatre on Nov. 8 and will run throughout the holiday season until Dec. 30. The production will also run at the Everett Village Theatre from Jan. 4 through Feb. 3.