at Mount de Sales

Reviewed on January 30, 2020

Severna Park
Maryland Theatre Guide
Perry Hall
The Gateway
Perry Hall
The Tribruin

Leslie Robinson
Severna Park

Submitted for publication to Maryland Theatre Guide

Music, mayhem, magic and the mob! "Matilda the Musical" delivers all this, plus a little chocolate cake! Marvelously teleporting us to an inventive world full of sinister bullies and surprising antics, Mount de Sales Academy's production of the British hit musical was thoroughly entertaining, and even "a little bit naughty."

Unsurprisingly from the author who brought Willy Wonka and the BFG to life, "Matilda the Musical," is based on the book of the same name by Roald Dahl. The show chronicles the adventures of a precocious, lonely young girl desperate for intelligent human contact. After years of neglect and verbal abuse by her idiot parents, she finds emotional refuge in books and storytelling. Entering school for the first time, Matilda stumbles upon an unexpected ally in her teacher Miss Honey and discovers magical abilities, conjuring up opportunities she could have never imagined. As Matilda tries to free herself and her classmates from the oppressive thumb of their headmaster Miss Trunchbull, magic and mischief ensue.

Tackling the complex role of five-year-old Matilda was Naomi Brinker, playing the kindergartener with confidence and spirit in songs like "Naughty." Isabelle Somma had the audience spellbound as she embodied sassy, dance-obsessed Mrs. Wormwood, Matilda's mother. Somma's powerful, crisp vocals and sensuous salsa brought down the house, serving as a dramatic foil to the Matilda's generous, supportive teacher, Miss Honey. Maya Nellum enchanted the audience as Miss Honey with intuitive acting and a lilting soprano as sweet as her character's name. As the wicked Miss Trunchbull, Theresa Kirby brought to life the menacing, sinister nature of the evil headmistress with fearlessness and talent. Another standout performer was Ana Novotny as Bruce. From devouring an entire chocolate cake onstage to showcasing crystal clear vocals in "When I Grow Up," she left the audience craving more.

The ensemble filled the stage in large numbers such as "Miracle" and "Revolting Children," where their energy and distinctive characters were outstanding. Although some dances lacked perfect synchronicity, any notice of it vanished with the sharp execution of the choreography. With power and spirit in every note, it was easy to get swept into the toe-tapping score. Playing all ages from young children to parents, Mount de Sales certainly proved the versatility and talent of its actors.

Equally amazing was the effective and adaptable set made by the MDSA Theatre Arts Class. The creative aspects of the set, such as large suspended block letters and a playful slide were perfect for accompanying the diverse scenes. Similarly, the MDSA Pit Band's hard work and musicality were obvious with such a challenging score. Costumes by Samantha Steer and Eden Kebede unified the ensembles and nicely enhanced the unique characteristics of each role.

Mount de Sales Academy's "Matilda the Musical" proved that with imagination, helpful magic, and a little courage, nothing can stop you from changing your story. Roald Dahl once said, "Those who don't believe in magic will never find it." Mount de Sales Academy found the magic, and the audience certainly did, too!

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Brian Kraft
Perry Hall

Submitted for publication to The Gateway

Green hair, chocolate cake, and even a little bit of magic are just a few of the trademarks which await audience members at Mount de Sales Academy's contagiously energetic production of "Matilda the Musical".

Originally a children's novel written in 1988 by Roald Dahl, the Tony award winning musical "Matilda" has seen many adaptions on screen and stage. The musical details the life of its title character, the brilliant Matilda Wormwood, a young girl gifted with telekinesis who possesses a deep passion for reading. An outcast of her own home, Matilda is sent to school by her parents with the hope that she will become better socialized, only to find herself later navigating a world full of rebellious children, a bully for a headmistress, and a beloved teacher who recognizes Matilda's true potential.

From the opening number, Mount de Sales Academy proved that their cast possesses an obvious arsenal of talent. Anchored by intense choreography, powerhouse vocals, and impeccable comedic timing, their cast brought high energy through the entirety of the production, leaving the audience on the edge of their seats and bursting out into gut-splitting laughter continuously.

Naomi Brinker stole the show in the title role of Matilda. Marked by perfect mannerisms and obvious attention to the smallest characterizations, it became clear to audience members that Brinker possessed true dedication to her role. Her performance in the role of the young child was endearing, proven by her innocently sweet, childlike voice and soft singing voice which stood out in her solo songs "Naughty" and "Quiet".

Maya Nellum's portrayal of the bubbly Miss Honey was nothing short of captivating and endearing. Playing a true juxtaposition to Nellum was Theresa Kirby as Miss Trunchbull, who brought her character to life with each whistle blow and true hatred of the "maggot" children in her school. Standout performances of the production include the fiesty Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood (played by Isabelle Somma and Austin Wisniewski, respectively), Bruce (played by the truly hilarious Ana Novotny), and Patrick Scott as the comedic, salsa dancing Rudolpho.

The technical crew made each of their decisions noticeably unique for this production. Contrasting low-lighting in heartfelt scenes with the violently red glow of scenes involving Miss Trunchbull, lighting was very much appropriate for each individual scene. The MDSA Stage Crew made scene changes quick and efficient, interactive sets designed by MDSA Theatre Arts Class were especially impressive, and the pit orchestra comprised nearly entirely of student musicians brought the challenging score to life.

Mount de Sales Academy's production of "Matilda the Musical" brought together a truly talented group of students to deliver a very enjoyable performance. Get to Mount de Sales Academy, or you just may find a newt in your knickers!

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Tara Sutphin
Perry Hall

Submitted for publication to The Tribruin

"If you're stuck in your story and you want to get out. You don't have cry and you don't have to shout-" You just have to go see Mount De Sales Academy's production of "Matilda the Musical".

Matilda Wormwood, a five-year-old girl who is no where near short of a miracle. Growing up in an emotionally abusive home she turns to reading books as an escape and becomes impressively good at it. When Matilda begins attending school, she immediately catches the attention of her teacher Miss Honey and creates a special bond with her. But just like her home life Matilda's school life is not all sunshine and rainbows thanks to a big bully otherwise known as Miss Trunchbull the school's headmistress. "Matilda the Musical" based on the 1988 children's book by Roald Dahl and adapted into a musical in 2010 is the story of Matilda's journey to defeat her school bully and all of the other obstacles in her life.

Mount De Sales Academy's production of "Matilda the Musical" was anchored by a strong responsive ensemble whose talents were showcased in a number of featured roles, and were used to recreate some of the most popular moments from the original such as when Miss Trunchbull spins the little girl by her pigtails. This scene was recreated by the ensemble surrounding Theresa Kirby (Miss Trunchbull) and Monica Slattery (Amanda) and unitedly pointing their fingers in a circular motion to create the illusion that they were following the spinning girl.

Lead actress Naomi Brinker (Matilda Wormwood) adapted to playing her role as a five-year-old by sustaining a more childish voice throughout the show and continuing to do so in her musical numbers. Alongside Brinker stood Maya Nellum (Miss Honey), Matilda's cautious and supportive teacher. The two had undeniable chemistry between one another, and the audience became easily invested in their relationship and its development. Nellum (Miss Honey) possesses a gentle yet captivating voice that captured the essence of her character wonderfully and was highlighted in the musical number "My House".

Isabelle Somma (Mrs. Wormwood) had an undeniably large stage presence and the audience constantly awaited her return to the stage. In the musical number "Loud", the audience received a rightful display of Somma's (Mrs. Wormwood) phenomenal vocal talent as well as a memorable introduction to the comedic and show-stealing duo of Somma (Mrs. Wormwood) and Patrick Scott (Rudolpho).

The MDSA Stage Crew worked efficiently to move several big set pieces on and off the stage, ensuring quick scene changes that were hardly even noticeable. Which kept the show smooth and easy to follow. The MDSA Pit Band was full of talented and focused musicians who did an exceptional job at performing the accompaniment for this production and added emotional build up in musical numbers such as "Quiet".

The cast and crew of Mount De Sales Academy's "Matilda the Musical" should "Stand up and be proud!" of their performance because there is no doubt it made them "Stand out from the crowd!"

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