By Jill Harry
All this week the Barrow-Civic Theatre was filled with nervous energy and excitement as the cast and crew of “Matilda The Musical” dove into their final rehearsals like an acrobat taking on a death-defying dive.
Last-minute costume tweaks, light cues, line memorization and program edits were happening simultaneously with dramatic solo performances, perfected comic timing, over-the-top character acting and rapid scenery changes. It was “tech week” at its finest.
“It was so surreal when we were auditioning Matilda, but now it’s here. The set is finished and looks amazing,” said director Jill Lander.
Tuesday evening started with vocal warm-ups and Lander giving a few notes for the cast’s youngest members.
“If any of the tech people tell you anything, you listen,” she said. “And you stay quiet (on stage).”
It was a tall order for the kids, who could barely contain their excitement to be in costume for the opening scene.
With the short instructions covered, Lander called for the curtain to go up. “I’m ready. Let’s go.”
“Curtain please, or lights or whatever,” she followed up.
Curtain up and the full run in costumes was off to a shaky start but quickly picked up speed as the new stage manager and her crew moved behind the scenes to make the transitions from one set to another happen without much delay.
“Jenny didn’t tell us” was their explanation. It was not an acceptable one by Lander’s standards. It was the only time she stopped the performance in the first half so she could instruct them on their responsibility to know what is happening in the show at all times.
One actor responded to the incident by borrowing a tune from another musical and sang out “We are all in this together.”
But even without the musical reminder, the minor scolding didn’t dim the excitement of Matilda and her “classmates”.
“Did you hear them throw me under the bus?” fellow cast member Jenny Jack said in jest later when everyone was in the dressing room. She, like many of the other adults, has taken on several roles on and off the stage, including being the queen of teasing hair.
The night before the opening show, Lander says her advice to the kids is to get as much sleep as possible, rest their voices and be ready to make the audience laugh.
The show opens tonight at Barrow-Civic Theatre in Franklin and will include shows on October 1, 2, 6, 7 and 8. Tickets and information are available online at www.barrowtheatre.org.