Matilda review: The story of a child genius and her bravery

Retelling the classic Roald Dahl story, CHS Theatre once again stuns the audience with its talent.


Alice Kim and Hannah Kim

Published in 1988, the book Matilda by Roald Dahl was an instant hit which quickly translated onto both the big screen and stage. The story follows a young girl, Matilda, who is gifted intellectually and grew up in an emotionally abusive household. Upon entering elementary school, Matilda is faced with the tyrannical headmistress, Miss Trunchbull. Though she struggles with her parents and the headmistress, Matilda’s life changes when she meets her new homeroom teacher, Miss Honey, who.encourages her to stand up for not only herself, but her peers as well. 

Centennial took a different approach to the famous story through songs and dance and incorporating a bit of comedy. The Centennial High School Theatre Company premiered Matilda on March 16, 2023 and was composed of a musically talented cast, technical crew, staff, and choreographers which allowed the story to truly come alive in rhythm. Once again, this year’s musical was directed by Jacob Traver, a theater and English teacher. 

Matilda, played by sophomore Maddie Hall, was brought to life as never seen before. Maddie was able to submerge herself into the stage and overcome the challenge of Ms. Trunchball’s domination. From the storytelling to her rebellion, the genius Matilda shows how to stand by her words against powerful authority. “It was really fun, it was a lot of work for sure, but it was so worth it, because I got to spend a lot of time with the cast. All the work really paid off this weekend,” exclaims Hall.

Mr. Wormwood, played by senior Alex Blackburn, both humored and impressed the audience with his outstanding performance. Portraying major hair malfunctions from green dye to a superglued hat, his bright energy and tacky salesmanship filled the atmosphere, completing the tale of Matilda. “I really enjoyed playing Mr. Wormwood. His character required a lot of exaggerated movement and volume, which I had a lot of fun bringing to the stage,” states Blackburn.

Mrs. Wormwood, played by junior Emma Hitzelberger, not only showcased her salsa-dancing skills, but also her gifts for acting and singing. As the mother of Matilda, Hitzelberger transformed into the green outfit as sassy Mrs. Wormwood. Her dedication to this performance was seen throughout the humorous songs and energy.

Miss Agatha Trunchbull, played by senior Sarah Malgieri, dominated the stage with her incredible acting skills and characteristic voice. With the solo song by Trunchbull, Malgieri captivated the audience through Trunbull’s intense presence and singing style. After years of being a member of the Centennial Theatre department, Malgieri proved her talent one final time as Trunchbull in her last high school production. “There’s genuinely a deep love and connection for everyone. Everyone’s looking out for each other. I hugged so many crying underclassmen when we were done on our final day, so I’ll miss the people. I’ll come back and visit, but it won’t be the same,” Malgieri reflects.

Miss Honey, played by freshman Erin Leberknight, debuted on the Centennial stage, amazing the crowd with her incredible voice. Her honey-like voice perfectly brought forward the traits of her character through her tone and dictation. With various solos, it is not an easy task for many to be able to successfully accomplish the role, but Leberknight was able to prove her talent by immersing into a fragile yet brave school teacher, guiding the young Matilda to keep her courageous persona. “Getting to just be with everyone and… the song I did in the house was really fun,” recalled Leberknight.

Aside from the major characters, Matilda’s classmates also notably influenced the outcome of the performance. From the power of their voice to their rhythmic dancing, the students are remembered throughout the musical.

Led by choir teacher Rebecca Vanover, the cast were trained under her vocal lessons. Vanover was a fundamental teacher who allowed for the success of this year’s production. A special aspect of this year’s Matilda musical was the live music which was presented along with the pit band and orchestra directed by David Matchim. Without those students in the Centennial band and orchestra, the musical would not have been as surreal. Through perfectly crafted pieces, the Centennial music program did not disappoint. 

As always, those behind the scenes are greatly appreciated as well. The stage crew, made up of lighting, sound, set construction, and costumes were key factors for this year’s successful production. With the perfectly angled spotlights and usage of different colors, the stage was able to portray scenes with a variety of different emotions and tones. Additionally, the sound crew was able to enhance the musical talent of the cast through the usage of well-prepared microphones and sound engineering. The set team, as always, showed their finished product with unique backgrounds including a rolling living room and hanging swings. Often overlooked, the costume team perfectly captured the personalities of each character through the selective outfits chosen for each scene. “As a whole, I feel like we were able to bond together over the fact we had to play little kids and embrace it. We were able to be funny together which was a really big part of it and also try new things all the time, it was a really good experience,” explains senior Genevieve Chery, one of the head stage managers.

“I think Matilda calls us to recognize when things are unfair, and encourages us to take action even when we feel like we are too ‘little’ to make change,” captured Ben Hobson, a senior who played one of Matilda’s classmates.


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