Menlo School Drama present Matilda!

by Contributed Content on May 4, 2022

Menlo Drama is proud to present Matilda!,  the multiple Tony award-winning Broadway musical based on Roald Dahl’s beloved classic novel of the same name. Performances run May 13 -14 at 7:00pm; Sunday, May 15 at 5:00 pm;  and May 20 – 21, at 7:00 pm in Menlo School’s new Spieker Center for the Arts, 50 Valparaiso Avenue, Atherton.

Matilda! combines the talented forces of Menlo’s middle and upper schools in one spectacular show that revels in the anarchy of childhood, the power of imagination, and the inspiring story of an extraordinary girl who dares to take a stand and change her own destiny.

Matilda! follows Matilda Wormwood, a precocious little girl who immerses herself in books and by age five is reading Dickens and Dostoyevsky. Matilda is discarded and belittled by her dimwitted parents and bullied by her hostile headmistress, the outrageous and wicked Miss Trunchbull. Matilda finds a friend and confidant in her highly loveable schoolteacher, 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 and unique gifts. Clever, and with an ever-growing imagination and sharp mind, Matilda dreams of a better life, daring to take a stand against unjust forces and to grasp her destiny in her own, young hands.  As proclaimed in one of the show’s most popular songs, “Naughty”, “Nobody but me is gonna change my story.”

Through the clever tenacity of this amazing young girl, she does exactly that.  She not only changes her own destiny but that of her teacher, Miss Honey’s as well.  Sophomore Charlie Hammond, who plays the dreaded Miss Trunchbull, says “the show is an amazing celebration of the power that each person has to create change in the world, no matter how old you are.”

Director of Creative Arts and Upper School Drama Steven Minning joins forces with Rob Lewis, Director of Middle School drama, to stage this all-school musical featuring the talents of Menlo students ranging in age from 11 to 18. Bringing this blockbuster to life depends in part on the show’s youngest star, 7th grader Daphne Ryerson, who plays Matilda (pictured). “Everyone has to work together to create the show.  And everyone is so supportive.” Ryerson continues, ”Playing Matilda, a girl with such deep thoughts and emotions, is really challenging for me.  The high schoolers are so helpful and encouraging.  They’ve made it so much fun.”  Rob Lewis adds, “Matilda is a story the kids can connect with – a story about growing up, life at school, and the challenges that come with it.  Working alongside upper schoolers gives the middle schoolers an opportunity to make new friends through an inherent mentorship.  This show is about a love for learning and we are learning the unparalleled potential of what we can do – together!”

Minning chose Matilda! because of the show’s enduring message of the power of words. “That single phrase – the power of words – was the guiding principle of our Menlo Drama shows this season,” Minning says.  “Matilda is a young girl who stands up against verbal aggression and decides to change her story, one word at a time,” he explains. “Sometimes a single word can change everything.  Life can be changed forever with as little as a single phrase, an uplifting word, or an act of kindness.  This is the power of Matilda.  This is the power of teaching our students that words of empathy, encouragement, and compassion can not only change our story – it can change our world, one word at a time.”

The entire community is welcome to this production, appropriate for all ages.  Tickets are $12 for adults, and $6 for students, available for advance purchase at  menloschool.org/tickets.  Tickets are also available at the box office one hour before each performance.

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