Cherry Hill High School West to present ‘Matilda the Musical’

Fall musical embraces the plight of plucky, underappreciated kids.

Cherry Hill High School West will present ‘Matilda the Musical’ for six performances over four days. At rehearsals on Nov. 5, seniors Perry Gallo (left) and Megan Nutt (right) lead an ensemble through one of the spirited musical numbers in the production.

Matilda is a little girl who possesses wit, intelligence and – oh by the way – psychokinetic powers. She’s unloved by her parents, but impresses her teacher, Miss Honey. Over the course of her first school term, Matilda and Miss Honey have a profound effect on each other’s lives, as the latter begins to recognize and appreciate her student’s unique personality. 

Inspired by Roald Dahl’s 1988 novel, and following in the footsteps of the 1996 movie featuring Mara Wilson in the title role, “Matilda the Musical” revels in the anarchy of childhood and the power of imagination.

For six performances over four days, the drama club at Cherry Hill High School West, under the supervision of Carolyn Messias, will bring the award-winning stage production of “Matilda” – featuring a book by Dennis Kelly and original songs by Australian-English artist Tim Minchin – to life. 

“I’m happy to have gotten this role. It’s been really fun. It’s been a challenge because I am playing a woman, the headmistress. It’s all new for me. Definitely tough compared to other stuff that I’ve done, but fun still. I like singing … yeah, sure, you could say I’m a song-and-dance kinda guy,” said Perry Gallo, a senior who will play Miss Trunchbull.

Senior Megan Nutt won the role of Miss Honey, a character in which she revealed that she finds a certain sense of comfort and familiarity. 

“This is the role I auditioned for and had my heart set on. I’ve always kind of seen a little bit of myself in Miss Honey. I have the same kind of attitudes towards certain things … which maybe aren’t the best attitudes,” she said. 

“I’m taking bits and pieces of her character description from everything. On the performance aspect, I’m mainly looking at what was there in the Broadway show.”

Brianna Johnson plays the Acrobat, who performs a unique function in the musical version alongside counterpart C.J. Williams as the Escapologist. 

“It’s a small part of the show, scene-wise but I feel like it’s a big part of the show, plot-wise. You see how Miss Honey and Miss Trunchbull’s relationship forms because of Miss Trunchbull’s relationship with Miss Honey’s parents. I think it’s a cool story to tell.”

Playing against one’s personality type is a particular delight for some actors, and sophomore Chris Reigel, who will step into the role of Mr. Wormwood, is no exception.  

“It’s a fun experience because I’ve never played such a mean guy before. He’s such a comical guy so I get to be a terrible human being. I really enjoy my song, which happens at a weird time, and then I have this whole monologue before it where I’m in the audience interacting with people,” he admitted.

Rehearsals proceeded at a good clip on the evening of Nov. 5, just over a week prior to opening night. With a few minor hiccups, the focus from the middle school and high school participants alike belied a certain sense of anticipation for the finished product.

“We’re all fairly excited, but there’s always going to be the anxiety there. It always comes together at the last minute, and I know it’s going to be a good show once we have that one moment where it all does come together,” Riegel added.

‘Matilda’ will be performed for general audiences on Friday, Nov. 15 and Saturday, Nov. 16 at 7 p.m., then Sunday, Nov. 16 at 2 p.m. In addition, there are two planned student matinees, at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 14 and Friday, Nov. 15 as well as a free senior matinee scheduled for 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 14. 

Members of the public can purchase tickets for the show at: https://www.showtix4u.com/event-details/35261.  For more information on West’s theater department, visit: https://chwtheater.wordpress.com/