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  • Matilda: The Musical Was an Outstanding Success at Picketwire Theater

Matilda: The Musical Was an Outstanding Success at Picketwire Theater


By Betsy Barnett

July 27, 2022

Matilda is based on the wildly popular children’s book written by Roald Dahl in 1988 and published in London. It was made into a movie in 1996 starring Mara Wilson as Matilda, Danny DeVito as Mr. Wormwood, Rhea Perlman as Mrs. Wormwood and Embeth Davidtz as Miss Honey. The music and magical cinematography in the film has entertained generations of fans.

Last week at the historical Picketwire Theater in La Junta, MATILDA, the musical stage production was presented to large crowds for four nights in a row. This was the Picketwire Theater’s annual children’s summer production and it featured some of the most entertaining children cast in roles of the children at Crunchem Hall.

Matilda is a little girl with astonishing wit, intelligence and psychokinetic powers. She’s unloved by her cruel parents but impresses her schoolteacher, the highly loveable Miss Honey. Over the course of her first term at school, Matilda and Miss Honey have a profound effect on each other’s lives, as Miss Honey begins not only to recognize but also appreciate Matilda’s extraordinary personality. Matilda’s school life isn’t completely smooth sailing, however – the school’s mean headmistress, Miss Trunchbull, hates children and just loves thinking up new punishments for those who don’t abide by her rules. But Matilda has courage and cleverness in equal amounts and could be the school pupils’ saving grace!

Packed with high-energy dance numbers, catchy songs and an unforgettable star turn for a young actress, Matilda is a joyous power romp. Children and adults alike will be thrilled and delighted by the story of the special little girl with an extraordinary imagination.

The Picketwire productions utilize the spacious stage, impressive technology and sound, and an orchestra pit filled with talented musicians conducted by James Lind.

The Director for Matilda was Tracey Salzbrenner with vocal direction by Dean Rees and James Lind. Light Design was by Tracey Salzbrenner and the sound technician was Zach Zamora. Projections as part of the sets were done by Cameron Salzbrenner, and costume coordinators were Rebecca Ayala and Courtney Ayala. Choreography was led by Desiree Goheen.

Matilda Wormwood was played by Bethany Taullie who was impressive particularly in depicting the deep-seated anger Matilda held toward her parents and Ms. Trunchbull. In fact, her seething anger was so well done it was frightening at times.

The Kids Ensemble were quite entertaining as they sang and danced their way through the 2.5 hours.

The most popular characters in the production were Mr. & Mrs. Wormwood played by Patrick Smith and Natalie Summers. Both were exceptionally entertaining in their portrayal of the despicable and narcissistic parents.

All the memorable scenes were there and well- enjoyed by the crowd including Matilda putting glue in Mr. Wormwood’s hat, the “eat cake” scene with Bruce (Noah Nunez-Rebel) and the Trunchbull (Hannah Smith), and Miss Honey (Heather Pidcock-Reed) finally finding the courage to save herself and Matilda.

The Picketwire Players is a non-profit 501c3 organization that has been around for 54 years. If you would like to become a patron of the arts and support their exemplary work visit www.pickwireplayers.org/donate or mail your donation to PO Box 912, La Junta, CO 81050

The next production will be a Halloween delight when The Haunting of Hill House will be on the program. Auditions will be held August 29 & 30 at 6:30 pm at the Picketwire Theater. Production dates are October 27, 28 & 29 at 7:30 pm.

Then this year’s Christmas production will be Elf: The Musical with auditions being held October 25 & 26 at 6:30 pm and production dates scheduled for December 15, 16, & 17 at 7:30 pm.

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