RHS has a reputation for amazing theater performances filled with ultra-talented casts, a committed crew, and creative directors. This year, the theater program put on Matilda the musical, starring Bella Muro as Matilda. The cast was rounded out by senior Nick Cimillo who played Mr. Wormwood, senior Abby Oliveros who played Mrs. Phelps, junior Amelia Perlmutter who played Lavender, sophomore Danny Fencik who played Rudolpho, the Doctor, and Nigel, and sophomore Rebecca Mathews, who was the stage manager. They shared their thoughts with us about their experiences with this year’s musical.
Reflections from the cast
The opening night of Matilda was Friday, March 4 at 7:30 pm. Two shows followed with one on Saturday the 4th and one on Sunday the 5th. The cast and crew buzzed with excitement as this was the first non-restricted performance since 2020’s performance of Chicago. They agreed that their hard work, dedication, and perseverance really paid off.
“I’m really pleased with how everything ended up coming together,” said senior, Nick Cimillo. “It’s amazing to see how we’ve all grown both in our individual skills, and how we’ve grown together into a caring, dependable group of friends.”
Junior, Amelia Perlmutter added, “We’ve all grown so much since our first rehearsal and I think that’s something to be really proud of.”
It’s clear that the cast grew a special bond along with having the privilege of doing what they love. “It’s been so amazing watching everyone in the cast grow together. It’s truly awesome getting to work with such talented individuals.” Abby Oliveros said.
This year vs. last year
As we all know, COVID put safety restrictions on almost everything that required group gatherings, including the musical. Last year, RHS put on 100 Years of Broadway: a medley of songs and dance numbers from various Broadway shows throughout the last 100 years, which was written by the cast. The cast and crew had to wear masks while performing and there was a limit on the number of audience members.
This year, almost all of the restrictions were lifted: Masks were not required for the cast and there weren’t any limit on the number of audience members.
“After two years of not being able to perform without some restrictions, we had to learn to adapt.” Sophomore, Danny Fencik says. He goes on to describe how last year’s show was “written by cast members and had little-to-no plot” compared to this year where there was “magic, fun props, and revolting children!”
All of the cast and crew members felt similarly in that there was much more freedom and that true magic of performing this year.
“Being back on the stage while performing a real show and being able to perform without masks were all things that I had taken for granted before last year,” Amelia said. “This year getting back to normal was really awesome and I appreciated the experience a lot more.”
Becoming their characters
Coming off of a restricted year and limiting roles, sets, audience involvement, and experiences, many of the cast members took full advantage and embraced their characters to the fullest. A regular form of auditions was held, giving the directors a true vision of what each role should look like and who should play them. Their commitment to their roles was truly admirable as many agreed the actors captured the spirits of their characters with impressive accuracy.
The cast members agree as well. When asked about their favorite parts of playing their role(s), here’s what they said:
Nick’s favorite part of playing Mr. Wormwood was the audience interaction at intermission. “Not only do I find it hilarious that perhaps the single dumbest character in the show is the one who gets to break the fourth wall, but getting to interact with the audience was a very special experience.”
Danny was cast in four very unique roles. Although challenging, he was completely up for it. “I had to figure out how to be able to switch between these roles multiple times throughout the show. Nonetheless, I had so much fun playing the exotic dancer that is Rudolpho, quirky student Nigel, fatherly figure Escapologist, and the optimistic Doctor.”
There was a lot going on behind the scenes, too, of course. Here’s what stage manager Rebecca Mathews has to say about her role in the production:
“I had never had a big part in a show before so being stage manager was very exciting, and stressful for me. I would say my favorite part was having the opportunity to help with almost every aspect of the show and watching everything come together from start to finish.”
The show must go on
Of course, the road to putting on Matilda wasn’t always magical. The cast and crew got a little bit used to being in restricted mode and had to re-adjust their brains into normalcy. This comes with many challenges and obstacles that they worked hard to overcome.
“The biggest challenge that we faced was having to adapt,” Danny said. “The most notable example of this being the fact that our set and props were not finished until the week of the show, due to outside circumstances. We had to come together as a cast to figure out what to do and how to make the show look professional.”
A lot of challenges were out of the cast and crew’s control. Sometimes, there are technical difficulties that are just unavoidable. “Losing time and people due to many different things which made the time more stressful and hectic.” Rebecca points out. “We ran into many issues with our set that were out of our control and that sort of set things off their course. As a cast, it was really hard to get back on track after that.” Amelia adds.
However, despite some of the struggles that they faced, the cast and crew really managed to pull together an amazing performance that was a source of joy to so many. So many people missed the spectacular productions that the theater program put on, and Matilda was the perfect way to remind Rutherford of that stellar reputation that will live on for years to come.