by CLAUDIA BRAESCH, W.T. Woodson High School
A girl, far smarter than her family, is stuck in a school run by a violent and vengeful headmistress. Yet she manages to influence her school, her teacher, and her flawless ensemble of classmates.
With phenomenal acting and jaw-dropping tech moments, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology’s production of “Matilda” was gripping from curtain to curtain.
“Matilda” was written by Roald Dahl in 1988, later being turned into a movie and subsequently a musical that premiered in England in 2010 and jumped the ocean in 2013 to open on Broadway. The story grips parents and children alike, and the stage show is pure energy. It’s clear why this story continues to stay relevant.
The technical aspects of this show were clean, sharp and so effective in aiding the story. Mrs. Wormwood’s hair and makeup was exactly the right amount of cartoony and tacky. Designed by Mahika Rawat, she had long gloves with fake nails attached and long eyelashes to match.
The costuming was equally clever. The characters took on and took off layers as their stories progressed. Ms. Honey took off her oversized quilted cardigan to wear a skirt and shirt for Act II, while Matilda donned a blazer over her play dress, making her look more grown up as she ventured to school.
The most surprising technical elements were the letter blocks lining the stage. A stunning display on their own, in the song “Revolting Children” the letters lit up to spell out certain words, including the title words of the song.
Matilda, played by Sarina Saran, was impossible to look away from. Her facial expressions gave a perfect window into her inner thoughts. She seemed to sing and dance with ease. When she spoke to Ms. Phelps, or her family, you could see her demeanor change to match, and her charming vocal performance was an undeniable highlight of the show.
Saran was supported excellently by one her classmates, Bruce, played by Cyrus Rivers. An actor’s commitment is what makes the show an enjoyable experience. Rivers, despite the relatively few lines, was so memorable; even from the beginning, eyes were drawn to him in every ensemble number. And when Rivers got up to sing during “Revolting Children,” the audience could not contain their excitement.
The commitment from the actors, the flawless technical design, and the consistently good vocal performance, made Thomas Jefferson’s “Matilda” a joy to watch and an immersive and thrilling show.
The Sun Gazette partners with the Critics and Awards Program (CAPPIES) to present student-written reviews of local high-school theater productions.
For more on the initiative, see the Web site at www.cappies.com/nca/.
Jason Klein, Aafreen Ali, Sri Vellakkat, Elizabeth Brown, Aiden Zurcher, Nikhil Vattathara and Mira Singh in Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology’s production of “Matilda.” (Photo by Molly Sprickptured)