Life isn’t always easy — even as a child genius.
Dealing with cruel, unloving parents, and the harsh headmistress Miss Trunchbull, a little girl with amazing intelligence and psychokinetic powers learns to navigate life at school as Andover High School Theatre brings “Matilda” to life for its spring musical.
“As Matilda learns in this show, we’ve all experienced that sometimes life’s not fair,” said director Ann Leaf-Johnson. “Matilda has a lot to teach us about overcoming obstacles and believing that the actions of one person can make a difference in life. All the students who have come together to create Matilda today have risen to the demands of life admirably and with a great deal of flexibility and resilience. As Matilda herself says, ‘Nobody else is going to put it right for me. Nobody but me is gonna change my story.’ This show reminds all of us to work to change the things we don’t like in our lives.”
It’s a serious and sometimes harsh world for the lead character, but there are plenty of opportunities for humor and captivating music throughout.
“My favorite part about the play is definitely how passionate everyone is about this,” said sophomore Vexin Ruddy, playing Sergei/ensemble. “We have put so much work into this production and the countless hours have truly paid off. There will always be uniqueness to every play that we at Andover High School do, but this specific play has so much passion and emotion behind it. You can tell all the actors are really trying their hardest to make this the best one yet! I know for a fact the audience will enjoy the comedic breaks this production has. At every turn, there is a joke, a surprise, a daring question! What will come next? Even the cast sometimes catches themselves off guard with the humor of this production!”
“It includes themes such as standing up to authority, especially in abusive situations even if it’s seen as rebellious or ‘naughty,’” said senior Camryn Bernard, who plays Amanda Thripp. “It’s discussing a very serious topic while also being a very humorous show. I think the audience will enjoy the unexpected comedic moments. Especially from the Wormwood family, I think they are a big part of what makes this show so lighthearted.”
The musical marks a full return to spring theater, with a lot of newcomers to the high school theater able to take part for the first time, as well as returners to the stage and crew.
“This show is our first full musical with a student pit orchestra in three years, so we have a lot of students working on their first musical right now as actors, technicians or members of the orchestra,” Leaf-Johnson said. “Musicals are often more challenging than plays because of all the moving parts and the number of people involved. ‘Matilda’ has taken the dedication of almost 70 students for the past eight weeks to bring to life for audiences now!”
“I like how a musical is a new experience for me and many others; we’re all trying to figure out what we’re doing,” said senior Adam Berthiaume, who plays Miss Agatha Trunchbull. “I sing! I don’t usually do that. My favorite part of this musical is definitely ‘School Song.’ It’s this spooky song warning the new kids about the evil that is Principal Trunchbull (my character).”
“As a backstage techie, I can say that I absolutely love working on Matilda,” said sophomore Tim Munce, stage crew. “The environment is lively and we have a great community going on here. I’ve been very excited about our props and sets; we’ve got a lot more going on backstage than we had for our fall production of ‘Alice and Through the Looking-Glass.’ Our audience is sure to enjoy the witty humor, music, and charm of our actors in this production. It is very reminiscent of the nostalgia associated with Ronald Dahl’s book and film ‘Matilda.’”
The show offers a unique flair as well, with surprises for audience members in store.
“I love the elements of magic and special effects that add a lot of shock,” Bernard said. “There are also just a lot of unexpected quirks. I’d give an example, but I wouldn’t want to give anything away!”
The final weekend of shows are Friday and Saturday, May 6-7 at 7 p.m., and Sunday, May 8 at 2 p.m. For tickets, go to andovertheatre.org.