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'Matilda the Musical' performances slated in Jamestown

The production will be in the Jamestown High School theater.

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Matilda (Anja McDermid) appears to be getting a scolding from Miss Trunchbull (Daniel Nyland) as the cast poses for a photo during a rehearsal of "Matilda the Musical" on Thursday, June 16, at Jamestown High School. At left is Miss Honey (Monica Ripplinger), the teacher at the school headed by the "vicious" headmistress Trunchbull in what co-director Mike McIntyre calls an "over-the-top" comedy musical that will be presented next week at JHS.
Kathy Steiner / The Jamestown Sun
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JAMESTOWN — “Matilda the Musical” comes to the Jamestown High School theater next week for two performances.

The production is at 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday, June 30-July 1, and is the work of Jamestown High School Advanced Theatre Arts.

Mike McIntyre, who co-directs the production with his wife, Cheryl, said the musical is based on Roald Dahl’s book “Matilda,” and while it has some sentimental things to say, is an over-the-top comedy.

“If you’re looking strictly for believable characters, this show doesn’t do that,” he said. “Even in the book those characters are treated quite cartoonish, and the musical makes the most of that.”

McIntyre said situations are “pretty crazy” in Dahl books, with unusual characters with idiosyncrasies who live in “rather distorted worlds.”

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“And the weird thing going on here (in this production) is that all of these children are attending a school which is led by a vicious headmistress by the name of Agatha Trunchbull,” he said.

He said people may be familiar with the movie “Matilda” starring Mara Wilson, Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman and noted a new movie of the musical version is expected out later this year.

“A lot of people are really quite familiar with the details that are back in that original book and this musical uses most of them,” McIntyre said. “The musical came out in London back in 2010, so it’s a pretty new show itself. And it’s got a real kind of pop and rockish score.”

The main characters in the production are Matilda, a young girl; Miss Honey, the teacher at the school, and Agatha Trunchbull, the mean headmistress.

Monica Ripplinger has the role of Miss Honey. Summarizing the plot, she said Matilda is an exceptional little girl, which her parents don’t see. She goes to the school where Trunchbull doesn’t treat the kids fairly.

“But Miss Honey is the timid teacher of the children and she, along with Matilda, are on a journey that brings them to realize that they need to be able to stand up for what is right,” Ripplinger said.

While Miss Honey doesn’t know how to stand up to Miss Trunchbull, she is empowered by Matilda standing up for herself.

“Matilda is a genius child but she comes from an extremely dysfunctional family, so Miss Honey is Matilda’s outlet for finding how to make the most of her special abilities,” McIntyre said.

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Anja McDermid has the role of Matilda and said she’s enjoyed the challenge of playing someone much younger than herself. Of her character, McDermid noted that Matilda is a genius.

“She knows her times tables and reads college-level books by the age of 5 and even though her parents don’t realize that, she does go on to meet Miss Honey and ends up finding support,” she said. “Her mind is so genius and so extraordinary that she can do weird, incredible, magic things with it.”

Daniel Nyland has the role of Agatha Trunchbull.

“When this musical was written and the way that it’s typically cast, the way that it was always cast in the London productions and the Broadway productions as well is a man because Miss Trunchbull has to be particularly imposing and let’s say not very attractive in a feminine sense, so the traditional way to cast this role in the musical is with a guy,” McIntyre said.

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Nyland said he thinks his character represents the strict conformities that in the most extreme sense that people impose on children, not letting their children be children.

“She is just an evil character as she’s written,” McIntyre said. “So she is an extreme villain for us.”

The production is appropriate for all ages, he said, and has broad appeal for children and adults.

The cast of more than 29 people includes students in grades 6 through recent JHS graduates. Rehearsals began after Memorial Day, with students also handling technical and public relations roles, McIntyre said.

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In addition to director, Mike McIntyre handles staging and technical issues, Cheryl McIntyre has music and some choreography, and Alvia Hoke handles some choreography and costuming.

The cast members, in addition to Ripplinger, McDermid and Nyland, are Kody Sagaser, Emma Wiley, Tyler Piehl, Erin Henke, Zoe Bennett, Paris Ndikum , Zack Holben, Emily Lausch, Ben Shirley, Synneva Sortland, Bridget Stevens, Abigail Boehm, Rozalyn Osborn, Sophie Bratton, Siri Tweten, Faith Sagaser, Libby Grimson, Sophie Hasbargen, Noah Sagaser, Madi Stinar, Westin Walker, Ian Weis, Ashlyn Weis and Brittney Carpenter.

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If you go

What: “Matilda the Musical”

When: 7 p.m. June 30-July 1

Where: Jamestown High School theater

Admission: $7 adults, $5 for students

Kathy Steiner has been the editor of The Jamestown Sun since 1995. She graduated from Valley City State College with a bachelor's degree in English and studied mass communications at North Dakota State University, Fargo. She reports on business, government and community topics in the Jamestown area. Reach her at 701-952-8449 or ksteiner@jamestownsun.com.
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