After logistical issues with their spring production of “Shrek: The Musical” that led to the show being postponed, Jonesborough Repertory Theatre will, instead, take on the regional premiere of “Matilda The Musical.”
Based off of the children’s novel by Roald Dahl, “Matilda” follows the story of a young girl with unsupportive parents who is sent to a terrible school, despite her immense knowledge. After starting school, Matilda develops strange powers, learning she can do things with her mind.
In the musical, Matilda stands up to her terrible headmistress, Ms. Trenchbull, and leads a revolution at her school, proving everyone can change their story.
The last Broadway performance of the show was on Jan. 1, 2017. In 2013 it was nominated for 15 Tony Awards, taking home one for Tonys Honors for Excellence in the Theatre for the four young actresses who originated the title role.
Jennifer Ross Bernhardt, artistic director of the theatre, described the acquisition of the license to perform the musical as a happy accident. Once the theatre found out the dates of their production of “Shrek the Musical” would have to be pushed back, the new plans for “Matilda” fell into place.
Bernhardt said that the show had been planned for next season, but this season is just as good because of all the students in the theatre’s theatre education program. She said they added a class for children since last year the theatre had to turn students away because so many expressed interest. This year they’re catering to more than 100 students.
“I see the talent in those classes and I’m so glad there’s another opportunity for those students to perform in a mainstage show,” said Bernhardt.
The show will be a departure from the theatre’s usual style of musical. The family-friendly, classical musicals and plays like “South Pacific” and “Beauty and the Beast” frequent their stage. “Matilda the Musical” features a much more modern score and has that famous Roald Dahl darkness.
The show also calls for a more abstract set that moves and changes frequently. In the script are swings where the children swing out almost over the audience and objects that move seemingly on their own.
“It’s Roald Dahl so it can be anything you want it to be because it’s so strange. But at the same it’s so relatable,” said Bernhardt.
Auditions for the show will be held Thursday, Jan. 31 at the Jonesborough Repertory Theatre at 125.5 West Main St. in Jonesborough. Auditions for children begin at 6:30 p.m. and adults will audition at 7:30 p.m. Comfortable clothes and shoes should be worn for the dance audition and there will be cold reads from the script and group singing.
Those interested in a lead role should prepare a short 30-second to 1-minute audition song. If you are using sheet music for the accompanist, it should be in a binder, and the selection marked clearly.
The show will be directed by Bernhardt, and Karen Elb will be the set designer and stage manager. Carol Burley will be assistant direct, and Heather Allen will choreograph the show. Lucas Schmidt and Shawn Hale will assist with musical direction.
“Shrek the Musical” will still be performed at Jonesborough Repertory Theatre but will be moved to the fall.
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