Even if you’ve seen the movie and read the book, Theater at Latitude 58’s take on “Matilda” will have surprises.
Their take on “Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical” opens Friday and includes new wrinkles that haven’t been featured anywhere else.
“Our choreography is all original,” director Karen Allen told the Capital City Weekly during a Thursday rehearsal.
That’s because Theater at Latitude 58’s “Matilda” is a pilot production. The show is not yet widely available to amateur adaptations, but after Allen and Heather Mitchell, a board member and producer for Theater at Latitude 58, sent a letter requesting special permission, work started bringing it to a Juneau stage.
“It’s come a really long way,” Allen said.
Young actors found harmonies and danced their way through “Telly,” an extremely catchy ode to television, while Allen spoke. They were accompanied by a drummer and pianist during rehearsal, but the show will feature a full orchestra when it goes on at Thunder Mountain High School.
During “Telly” one of the show’s foibles is readily apparent — the entire cast adopts English accents for “Matilda.”
“There really wasn’t a choice,” Allen said. “The story is inherently British. The idiom isn’t American.”
Allen said the words used and the sensibilities imbued in Dahl’s comic world made it an easy choice to make even if meant less-than-easy work.
To add another layer of difficulty, the accents aren’t one size fits all. Different characters sport accents tied to specific regions.
Most of the cast uses a Central London manner of speaking, but the Wormwoods, Aaron Schetcky and Heathy Mitchell, boast thick Cockney accents and the authoritarian Miss Trunchbull, Jared Vance, has a North Country lilt.
During rehearsals, even Allen’s instructions were delivered in character.
“It’s been a challenge for them,” Allen said. “We’ve just been going with full immersion.”
Actors said they’ve enjoyed the process.
“I always like accents,” said Karen Adkison, who plays Lavendar.
Abigail Zahasky, who plays Miss Honey, said she likes them a lot more that they’ve been practiced.
“I love it know that I can kind of do it,” Zahasky said.
They all also expressed fondness for the musical’s family-friendly comedy, and idealism.
“It has such a beautiful message,” Zahasky said.
Allen said Theater at Latitude 58 is not at all political, but it’s hard not to see the musical’s championing of individuality through the prism of current events.
“It’s got a message that resonates right now,” Allen said. “Everyone has the resources to stand up and fight back in their own way.”
Know & Go
What: Theater at Latitude 58’s production of “Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical”
Where: Thunder Mountain High School, 3101 Dimond Park Loop
When: Friday, Nov. 17, Saturday, Nov. 17 and Sunday, Nov. 18. Show times are 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Admission: $20 for adults, $10 for children, students and seniors. They are on sale online through the JAHC’s box office, at the door and at Hearthside books.
• Contact arts and culture reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or email@example.com.