Lake Placid students perform ‘Matilda’ next week

Maya Garrison, who plays Matilda Wormwood, sings at rehearsal for Lake Placid Middle/High School’s production of “Matilda: The Musical” on Wednesday. (Enterprise photo — Sydney Emerson)

LAKE PLACID — Since 1988, generations of students have enjoyed “Matilda,” Roald Dahl’s story of a book-loving little girl who develops powers of telekinesis and escapes the clutches of her ignorant family and an evil school headmistress. Next week, at Lake Placid Middle/High School, a group of students will bring the story to life onstage with a production of “Matilda the Musical.”

“I love this show so much. It’s so funny and the talent we have fits so well for this show. We have a lot of dancers and a lot of student choreographers,” said musical director and LPHS vocal music teacher Taylor Prosper. “It’s been really fun seeing all the adults and students come together to make this really wonderful product.”

Maya Garrison, LPHS junior, won the lead role of Matilda Wormwood shortly before winter break in December.

“I was nervous because I have a little bit of stage fright, but I was really just excited,” she said.

Garrison had not read Dahl’s novel when she was cast in the lead role, but she did take pointers from the 1996 movie adaptation starring Mara Wilson and the 2022 Netflix movie musical starring Alisha Weir.

Lake Placid Middle/High School vocal music teacher and musical director Taylor Prosper teaches the cast of “Matilda: The Musical” how to do a proper kick line at rehearsal on Wednesday. (Enterprise photo — Sydney Emerson)

“I tried to make (the character) my own, but I listened to the recording of the musical and I tried to sound very similar to the character because she’s young,” Garrison said.

As high school students, Garrison and the other cast members are a few years older than the cast of “Matilda the Musical” traditionally is — the role of Matilda is usually played by actresses 8 to 12 years old. But Garrison has a high voice and has been practicing making her pitch sound younger, she said.

The show is dance-heavy, and sometimes it takes an hour for the ensemble to learn just 20 seconds of choreography, Garrison said. Other students in the ensemble have enjoyed learning routines with choreographer Emily Brown.

“My favorite song is ‘Revolting Children,’ where we all get to let loose after Miss Trunchbull’s gone,” said Kiera Bouchard, a sophomore in the ensemble. “I really like dancing. It’s my only form of exercise I actually like.”

Lexi Coffin, a junior in the ensemble, has been dancing at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts since she was 3 years old. Her favorite number in the show is “Loud,” sung by Matilda’s mother, because of the choreography.

Garrison’s favorite song is her second-act solo, “Quiet,” in which Matilda realizes what makes her different from others is actually a sort of superpower.

“It’s intense but there’s a lot — it’s very emotional,” Garrison said. “Sometimes I struggle with getting overwhelmed, and the song ‘Quiet,’ the one I like the most, she’s like, ‘All these things are happening to me’ and she just has to block it out. Sometimes I feel like that.”

One of the biggest challenges of the show for the cast has been learning British accents, which the musical requires.

“They were terrified of it at first,” Prosper said. “The hardest thing is when it’s non-scripted speak and they have to do stage-talking.”

Garrison and Coffin said they did not find their British accents difficult to learn — Coffin said she mimicked actors from “Harry Potter,” while Garrison picked up the accent from her English summer camp counselors. The cast was given the homework assignment of watching episodes of “The Great British Baking Show” to study British accents.

“My audition was Australian,” Bouchard said. He added that it is now more British and much improved.

The students said that the opportunity to participate in the arts in school is valuable to them.

“It’s very accepting,” Bouchard said. “I don’t see Maya or Lexi most of the time within the regular day, but at rehearsal I feel accepted, I feel like we have friendships, I feel like there’s stuff there that I wouldn’t get in regular school.”

“I think it’s an important way to get people connected and have new experiences,” Coffin added.

Garrison said that she appreciated how LPHS supports students like her who participate in athletics and the arts at the same time.

“It’s very busy, but I think it’s just really fun to do things you want to do with the people you like,” she said.

Prosper said school musicals are “the embodiment of community.”

“It’s kids that didn’t know each other, but now they do. They’re such a tight family now. My favorite part is seeing a freshman and a senior be best friends,” he said.

“Matilda the Musical” will be performed in the LPHS auditorium at 7 p.m. on March 7, 8 and 9 and at 2 p.m. on March 9. There is no set cost for tickets; attendees can choose to donate as they are able at the door. All donations collected at the door in lieu of ticket sales will go directly to funding the LPHS music program.


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