Heather Shippit, director of Matilda the Musical, says the show reminds her of her childhood.
“It’s about using your imagination to make the world a better place, to retell your story, to change your story. It’s full of magic realism, a genre I love,” she says.
“It’s a story of children having a magical quality and wild imaginations. It is just so understandable to any audience.”
Matilda the Musical, based on the book by Roald Dahl with music and lyrics by the musical humourist Tim Minchin, features a cast of 40 and runs July 27 to 30.
The Capitol Theatre’s summer youth production, now in its 37th year, takes a cast of teenage dancers, singers and actors and provides them with professional directors, musical directors, choreographers, stage managers, and lighting technicians.
“In essence it’s a professional production, and the young people are the cast,” says Shippit.
Music director Malaika Horswill says she’s happy to be working with Minchin’s music “because his brilliance comes through in the music for sure. I also think there is something spectacular about 40 young voices singing about rebelling against cruel big people and standing strong together. And it’s just fun. It’s a jolly romp.”
The production is choreographed by Carley Brandel and the assistant director is Jesse Greenaway.
The story centres around five-year-old Matilda Wormwood, a child with inept and uncaring parents and a tyrannical school principal who hates children. Matilda uses her vivid imagination and powers of telekinesis to change the story of her life and that of her favourite teacher.
Shippit says she saw Matilda on Broadway 10 years ago and has wanted to stage it ever since. She says that as director of last summer’s production of Newsies, she noticed an up-and-coming group of talented younger teenagers in Nelson.
Most of the characters in Matilda the Musical are children.
“So we thought, ‘This is the year to showcase Matilda, with a huge crew of talented younger folk.’”
She says the production reached beyond its usual age range of 12 to 19 and took on a few kids age nine to 11.
Shippit says audiences will be impressed by the design elements of the production — lighting, costumes, sets.
“They are breathtaking. There is so much magic in the show, and magic is an undercurrent in all of the design aspects.”
This is Shippit’s fourth youth show as director, but she has been involved in some capacity every year since 1997, when she started the trend of painting each year’s poster on the back exterior wall of the theatre.
Why is she so committed?
“It’s such a unique way to create community and highlight the arts in Nelson. It builds professional artists who work and live here, in acting, singing, and technical theatre. We are building our future.”
Asked why people should get tickets for Matilda the Musical, Horswill said, “because it will change their lives for the better. They will leave the theatre feeling hopeful and powerful, and feeling like they should sign up to be in a musical themselves.”
Tickets to the show can be bought at www.capitoltheatre.ca.