Mummers' Society Presents Matilda

On February 24, 25, and 26, Saint James Theater presented Matilda, the story of an extraordinary girl with genius intelligence and magical powers. The show is based on the 1988 children’s novel by Roald Dahl which was made into a movie in 1996.
The cast and crew did a fantastic job bringing the characters to life for all three nights, the first time a musical has had three performances at Saint James. 

“From start to finish, from the beginning of rehearsals on, there was never a moment where this cast took a break,” said director Melanie Regan ’00. “They always wanted to get better every time they showed up.”

This was the third year that the musical has been performed in the winter rather than the spring, and Mrs. Regan said they changed the model of the rehearsal process, with music director Joseph Regan coming every day from mid-November on to do music rehearsals.  When Saint James had to delay the in-person start of school after winter break by two weeks, they lost rehearsal time, but managed to stay on task thanks to the change in the rehearsal model.

Mrs. Regan noted that although the title of the show indicates it is focused on one character, it really is an ensemble piece. 

“The students worked very hard to become their characters,” she said. “Depending on who you talked to after the show, there were seven or eight different people who they said stole the show. Everybody had a different favorite. That speaks to the consistency of the cast.”

Valerie Zumbrun ‘25, who played Matilda, said the cast and crew were a close community by the end of the show.

“I think during tech week, watching it all come together was just amazing, she said. “We had snippets of the show, but it was crazy how well everything worked out. We had a lot of fun together.”

One of many standout scenes from Matilda was when Bruce is forced to eat an entire chocolate cake by the evil Miss Trunchbull, played brilliantly by Rodrigo Tejado ’22. Yu Xing Lin Chen ’22 put a lot of work into playing Bruce, and said she only ate one bite of cake during the performances before turning her back to the audience to make the cake magically disappear into a box.  However, Yu Xing said her favorite moment of the show was when the only people on stage were Mr. Wormwood (Teddy Kuser ’24) and his son Michael (Drew Weisgerber ’23).

“During Teddy’s song, the curtains are closed, and the whole cast was actually behind the stage dancing,” she said. “We did a kick line when they were doing a kick line. It was one of those moments where we could all relax but also have fun and enjoy the show.”

The behind-the-scenes work was all student run from lighting and sound design to managing the stage during the performances. Mrs. Regan said the students on the crew take a lot of pride in their work and play a large role in the success of the show.  Matilda was the first musical for Brooks Carpenter ’25, who was in charge of lighting design.

“At first it was a lot of trial and error,” he said. “But once I got through learning the board, I was able to put it all together. The most gratifying part was Saturday night when we got a standing ovation. It made us feel like we all accomplished something great.”

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