Sometimes, children are smarter and braver than the grownups. Just ask Matilda Wormwood.
The Bayfield High School theater students will bring the beloved children’s classic to the stage for four performances starting tonight (Friday).
“Matilda,” published in 1988, was written by Roald Dahl. It is the story of a little girl named Matilda Wormwood. Matilda is curious and smart and an avid reader. She stands in sharp contrast to her parents and brother, who would rather spend their time watching television and who bully Matilda because she would rather read a book than eat dinner in front of a screen.
School is no better for the young genius: Headmistress Miss Trunchbull terrorizes her students and staff, especially Miss Honey, Matilda’s favorite teacher and ally. Unfortunately for Trunchbull, not only is Matilda super-smart, she has special ways to make things right.
Dahl’s book was made into a movie in 1996 starring Mara Wilson as Matilda. It was adapted for the stage in 2010 by The Royal Shakespeare Company with a book written by Dennis Kelley and music and lyrics by Tim Minchin. It premiered on Broadway in 2013.
“The story of Matilda is one I read often and played on repeat (in my VCR) in my house,” said BHS theater director Sarah Ripley. “Roald Dahl’s ingenious imagination to create characters of such strength and depth, and memorable plot lines that entertain audiences of all ages has taught me to celebrate differences and to laugh in the face of fear and pain.
“This is a play where the kids are smarter and braver than the adults, and Matilda creates change in her family and school by speaking up and taking action,” Ripley said.
She added that the play is more than just an entertaining story: These are bigger issues we can think about as children – and grownups.
“I have asked myself questions while diving deep into the world of Roald Dahl; What kind of teacher can I be? How can we find the power together to prepare our children for the future? Am I turning into the Trunchbull?” she wrote in her director’s notes.
BHS sophomore Halle Loveday is playing Miss Trunchbull in the play. She said playing the terrible school headmistress is challenging, but the challenge makes it fun.
“I’ve really had to step outside my comfort zone with this character,” she said. “I think it’s really helped me grow.”
And for Ripley, the upcoming production of “Matilda the Musical” has been an experience that stands out.
“The students at Bayfield High School have been more focused, proud and dedicated to bringing this story to life than any I have seen so far,” Ripley wrote in her director’s notes. “Directing ‘Matilda’ to the students of Bayfield has been an honor and a memory that I will never forget.”