BAM Theatre to bring ‘Matilda’ to life on stage

Hinsdale’s BAM Theatre will put on a production of “Matilda the Musical” on Aug. 2 through 4, where magic, books and “revolting children” will share the stage at Nazareth Academy in La Grange Park.

BAM Theatre is the first community organization to get the rights to the show.

“Matilda,” based on Roald Dahl’s book of the same name, tells the story of a gifted girl – both intellectually and magically – born into a verbally abusive and generally uninterested family. At school, she faces similar bullying from the principal until she decides to stand up and fight back.

Melanie Lamoureux, director of the show and BAM founder, said the show stays in line with both the book and movie, though BAM’s production has worked to bring out the “vibrant and joyful qualities that come with teaching kids’ theater.”

“There are 100 kids in the cast, so we are doing our best to get them all on stage being their usual selves and who they are as their own humans,” Lamoureux said. “And then we’re creating the characters from the script and adapting them to who they [already] are.”

Members of the cast echoed Lamoureux’s view, adding that the show was written to be in the spirit of the book.

Clark Anderson, 16, who plays Mr. Wormwood in one of the two casts, said their interpretation of the show has been very reminiscent of the book, while still adding an American twist to the British-based story.

To pull off the nuanced details portrayed in the book, movie and musical for their hybrid adaptation, much practice was needed. The cast is made up of children ages 5 to 16, which Lamoureux said has enhanced their rehearsal time more than stunted it.

Anderson said there was no such thing as a “typical” rehearsal for the show because there was so much to do. In some rehearsals, the cast focused primarily on blocking – deciding which cast members go where on stage at what parts of the show – while in others, they worked on singing and dancing.

The cast may split up, allowing BAM interns to work with the show’s leads and the ensemble, made up of all ages, to focus on big numbers.

In addition to group practice, lots of individual practice helps make the show. Many cast members said they like to practice with their families while preparing.

Ella Forsman, 9, who plays Matilda in one of the casts, said she and her mother enjoy going on walks together, reciting lines back and forth. Another actress, Shannon Stover, 13, who plays Mrs. Wormwood some nights, said her family likes to listen to her sing before bed – even though she said she always tries to convince them to let her save it for the show.

In addition to the 100 children on stage, there will be an adult actor. The show’s main antagonist, Mrs. Trunchbull, is typically cast by a male actor. In BAM’s production, long-time music director Peter Bromann will portray the role.

After the cast takes its final bow, Lamoureux hopes that the audience is inspired by what the kids in the cast – and kids in general – are capable of achieving.

“I love the fact that this whole story is about this colorful little girl who just has the capabilities to change peoples’ lives around her,” she said. “It’s a show about a powerful young person.”

Published by Suburban Life on July 31, 2019

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