Hammer Time

Garfield’s Matilda the Musical opens in one week, and preparations are in full swing.


Garfield Theatre is kicking into high gear for its biggest show of the year, Matilda the Musical. Since January, Garfield Theatre’s various departments have been hard at work constructing the world of Matilda Wormwood, a misunderstood bookworm who uses her wit and moral intuition to fight evil headmistress Miss Trunchbull. The musical introduces new characters and subplots for a more in-depth spin on the classic Roald Dahl story of children navigating the adult world while struggling to keep the magic of childhood alive. 

At the start of this year, set, costume, sound, lighting, hair and makeup tech students pitched their design ideas to Garfield’s theater director Ms. Gress, and approved ideas were developed during fifth period tech class. “The set is gonna be very colorful, very inviting, and fun enough that it can prompt the imagination of the audience,” tech director Sabina Kamila said. The set department has been ambitiously constructing an 18-platform background set of various heights, all bolted together and braced to support the cast. “[When designing] we had to keep in mind mobility, so if actors are able to walk on it, dance on it, how easily they can move from one part to another…at the core is the safety of the people using the set,” Kamila said. 

On stage, the cast is currently busy with scene work and choreography rehearsal. Madeline Gale and Delia Black worked together to choreograph last year’s spring musical Mamma Mia! as freshmen and have spent every sixth period in the Quincy Jones theater teaching and rehearsing songs. “I really enjoyed [choreographing] last year so I just wanted to do it again and get better at choreography,” Gale said. “Choreography is stressful. It’s crazy. But it’s really fun getting to see people practice your choreography and getting to see the final product. It’s a crazy experience to see what you came up with out in the world.”

The cast has been equally busy learning their lines and getting to know their characters. Sophomore Nyshae Griffin plays Matilda’s loving school teacher Miss Honey. Getting to learn [Miss Honey’s] backstory… the pain she has, the love she has, and everything in between…I’ve really gotten to become her,” Griffin said. 

All things music fall under the direction of Mr. Saunders, who oversees the execution of each song by the cast and conducts the band that will play live every show. The music will be performed in the pit below the stage by a group of 15 Garfield musicians, who will begin rehearsing with the cast during tech week. 

Matilda the Musical’s complicated music, set, choreography and other technical elements are resulting in a two-week tech week this year, which will allow the cast and crew more time to get a handle on the complex aspects of the show. With ten Garfield shows under her belt, Kamila is used to the crunch time. “Having two weeks of tech week this year is really nice. Being here every day until ten, it’s exhausting and grueling, but it’s really fun, and it’s where I’ve made my favorite memories from theater,” Kamila said. 

Matilda the Musical opens Friday, June 2, and runs for two weekends including some matinee performances for elementary and middle schoolers. Posters around the school and in nearby businesses encourage anyone and everyone to attend. Talk to any student involved and they will describe months of hard work, passion, and excitement to share their experience with an audience. As Kamila puts it, “Every single aspect [of the musical] has gone to an entirely new level that I have never seen before. All of [us] are so hard working, here to have fun and put on a good show. It’s truly gonna be a visual masterpiece.”