Merced County Times Newspaper
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Meet A Little Genius In ‘Matilda The Musical’

Playhouse Merced’s production of “Matilda, the Musical” is based on a well-loved novel by British author Roald Dahl, published in 1988.
Playhouse Merced’s production of “Matilda, the Musical” is based on a well-loved novel by British author Roald Dahl, published in 1988.

Playhouse Merced’s production of “Matilda, the Musical” is based on a well-loved novel by British author Roald Dahl, published in 1988.

“Matilda,” adapted by Dennis Kelly, with music and lyrics by Tim Minchin, will run from Feb. 14 through March 8 at the theater located at 452 W. Main Street in Merced.

Rachel Rodrigues, Playhouse Merced’s director for the show, and Zachary Calzadillas, the show’s choreographer, are very pleased with the production.

Rodrigues told the Times, “The show is based on Roald Dahl’s novel, Matilda, and it’s about a very intelligent little girl born into a family that really doesn’t understand intelligence.

“She is bullied by her parents and her family, and she is bullied when she gets to school by her headmistress, and in time, she develops some special powers that help her get out of the situations and stand up to the bullies.

“She is an avid reader, which is how she gets a lot of her little revenge ideas to get back at people who are being bullies.
“She’s incredibly intelligent at math and can do wild equations in her head.

“The play takes place when she is in kindergarten so it shows how intelligent she is, and also that she’s all about standing up for what’s right.

“I love the character of Matilda.  I’ve been a fan of the character since I was little, and I myself was a bookworm.  I feel so privileged to be working on it.”

“One of the phrases repeated over and over is ‘Even if you’re little, you can do a lot’, and that really hits close to home for me.

“Another important line is, ‘Nobody but you is going to change your story.’

The meaning of this line is revealed is when Matilda starts taking things into her own hands to improve her life.

“The suspenseful parts of the play are to see how Matilda gets out of the situations at school and how she finds her happy ending.”

When asked about the cast, Rodrigues told the Times, “It was so important to me to find a cast that really works well with each other.  We literally found the perfect cast.  They have really good on stage chemistry.

“The kids clearly love each other, and they are insanely talented.

“The actress portraying Miss Honey is 100% Miss Honey, and the actress playing Miss Trunchbull (they call her “the Trunchbull”), the Principal of the school, is a blast to watch.”

Describing support staff, Rodrigues said, “Our choreographer, Zach Calzadillas, has done a spectacular job.  There are times when I’m crying with excitement to see the kids in the conservatory doing these amazing dances.

“Tammy Borges, our Musical Director, has done a great job with the vocals.  They sound incredible.”

Zachary Calzadillas, choreographer, told the Times, “My first show I choreographed was ‘Willy Wonka, Jr.’ and that was for the Conservatory, and then I did ‘Spamelot, Young At Part’ for the older Conservatory last summer, and then I choreographed for the Play Anywhere program where we go out to different schools in the area for two weeks and work with them to put on a show.

“In ‘Matilda, the Musical’, I worked a lot with the kids finding out what was within their capabilities while making the numbers interesting to watch.  In the show, there are two groups – – the younger kids are 9 to 13, and the older ones are from 15 to 19.  Most of the younger kids take Conservatory classes, I believe.

“The most challenging thing was the wide variety of levels of experience.  Some had previous dance experience and some had never danced before, so it was difficult to insure all of them were up to the standard to have it be a cohesive production.

“For the most part, the dancing is mainly ensemble numbers.  One number is based around the theme of Bruce eating the chocolate cake.  The younger kids are cheering on or supporting Bruce, who is being forced to eat the giant chocolate cake.  The viewers who know the story will know that he ends up eating the cake.  The way it’s done emphasizing being supportive.

“It was a lot of fun working on the show, although challenging because it’s the first time I’ve choreographed a show for the main stage.  It was a good experience.  “I’m really proud of the work the cast has done.  They’re doing a really good job.”

For further information about the show, those interested can contact the Playhouse Merced box office at (209) 725-8587.

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