Behind the middle school production of “Matilda Jr.”


Gila Safra

The cast of “Matilda” has a dress rehearsal for their upcoming shows.

Gila Safra, Reporter

While the middle school cast sings “Revolting Children,” there are a million moving pieces going on behind the curtain. As costumes, props and scenery seamlessly appear onstage, backstage is chaotic.

This year’s middle school musical is “Matilda Jr.,” with upcoming performances this week on March 16 at 7:30 p.m. and March 19 at 2 p.m. Director of Arts Education Dr. David Solomon selected “Matilda Jr.” as the musical over the summer and auditions started after winter break.

Solomon chose “Matilda Jr.” for its “joyous energy.” It is a “goofy” show full of cartoonish characters, which he hoped would be fun for the students.

“I am proud of the group as a whole because they’ve worked so well together,” Solomon said. “Putting on a show is one big group project … and it’s [the success of the play] entirely based upon whether people work together.”

There are 42 middle school students playing a role in the production of the musical, with 37 in the cast. Among those cast members is leading actress and sixth-grader Maya Deutsch in the role of Matilda.

Duestch just recently started acting this past summer when she participated as an ensemble member in a musical with Imagination Stage, which coincidentally was “Matilda.” She decided to try out acting due to her love for singing and has really enjoyed it.

When Deutsch auditioned for the middle school musical, she didn’t think “in a million years” that she would receive the part of Matilda. While she is very excited to perform this role and take on a new challenge, it also comes with stress. Especially as a sixth-grader, she said it is kind of intimidating to be surrounded by very talented people with more experience.

“I’m looking forward to when the play ends,” Deutsch said. “Then, I can think to myself, ‘wow, I actually did that, that’s crazy.’ … My fear is that I’m just going to make one little mistake and it’ll just fall apart.”

Matilda is a story about a girl who is intellectually gifted and has psychic powers. The play follows her struggles to come to terms with her cold-hearted family and save her teacher, Miss Honey, from her heart-rending situation.

The cast performs many ensemble numbers with intricate choreography, but the work behind the stage also has a difficult and complex choreography to it.

Junior Reyut Wasserstein, one of the stage managers, said that there are a lot of moving parts and “no one’s not doing anything” backstage. Stage managers have to deal with quick costume and set changes, along with many materials breaking, such as costumes and microphones. She emphasized that nothing would get done without the stage managers and that the cast wouldn’t be able to put on a polished performance. Things inevitably go wrong during a show, but it is their job to cover those things up and help it to continue moving smoothly.

“We don’t really get a lot of recognition all the time because people are always usually focused on the actors,” Wasserstein said. “That means that we’ve done our job, to make sure that it doesn’t look like anything went wrong, but we don’t get a lot of credit where credit is due.”

Wasserstein chose to participate in the middle school musical because of her love for theater. She enjoys participating in productions, and since she can’t play a role in the musical, she wanted to work behind the stage.

In addition to “Matilda” being a cute and funny play, Wasserstein said that the show is full of talented actors with amazing voices. Solomon said that the audience should be looking forward to all the different pieces coming together to create a piece of art that is “magical and fantastic.”

“I am most excited for these students to get on stage before an audience and get the cheers and the applause that they deserve,” Solomon said. “They are going to wow the crowd.”