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Students Bring Magic to Stage with Matilda, Jr.

Students Bring Magic to Stage with Matilda, Jr.
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The BSM drama department is pleased to present this year’s junior high musical “Matilda, Jr.,” in three performances, Friday, Feb. 23 and Saturday, Feb. 24 at 7 p.m., and in a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, Feb. 25. The show, based on the beloved children’s book by Roald Dahl, features songs and routines from the popular Broadway musical. Purchase tickets here.

This year’s show features a cast of 15 junior high students singing, dancing, and acting throughout the 75 minute production. For Manuella Brierton ’29 who plays Matilda Wormwood, the show has been a great experience. “I like how this show has brought us together, now we’re like a big family. The story reminds us that no matter who you are, you can do anything.”

Matilda, Jr. tells the story of a young intelligent girl who develops a love of reading despite her abusive parents and the headmistress of her school. BSM students have enjoyed preparing the coming of age production filled with magic, mischief, and mayhem, reminding students of the importance of standing up for what is right.

“This show is exciting because for many of these students, it’s their first time on stage,” said Megan Kelly Hubbell who is directing her 17th junior high musical at BSM. “I love watching the transformation of our cast from shy auditions to confident performers on stage.” Hubbell explains that the students find their place at BSM during rehearsals and spending time learning their lines. “Drama at BSM is special. The students rise to the challenge, putting in the hard work and accepting the responsibilities to be part of a full production on stage in front of family, friends, and classmates.”

“It’s fun to be on stage performing,” Brierton said, adding, “The music is energetic and sometimes dark – but not scary.” From an adult perspective, Dahl’s stories have a dark undercurrent, yet the message of his books inspire young people to have courage and perseverance.

The Wormwood family isn't pleased with Matilda during this year's junior high musical "Matilda, Jr." at BSM.

“Theatre in itself is a great place where you can express yourself through your character’s choices, in your voice,” said Isaac Duckinfield ‘28. “There are a wide variety of roles in Matilda – shy kids, big arrogant businessmen like mine (Mr. Wormwood) and more – so each actor has an opportunity to be creative in their own way.”

The junior high students are being supported and coached by members of BSM’s senior high drama productions who are taking leading roles behind the scenes. 14 students have been working on building sets, running sound, setting lights, and producing the show. While Betsy Brill ’24 is planning to be a chemistry major in college, her work with BSM drama has helped her support other students in the program.

Brill is using her experience on stage at BSM to choreograph an entire song for Matilda. “It’s a nice shift in perspective being backstage, we get to encourage the actors and help create things for them to perform,” Brill said, noting, “Being in a leadership role for this show teaches me how to communicate effectively with others.”

The junior high students appreciate the collaboration and opportunity to shadow the upperclassmen. “My first role was as a banker in last year’s production of Mary Poppins,” Duckinfield said, “It’s great to work with the high school students as mentors.”

Audrey Feller ’28 is flexing her acting skills, playing Mrs. Wormwood, a very different character from her role as Jane in Mary Poppins. “Jane was sweet, this character is not necessarily scary, but definitely mean and over the top,” Feller explained. “It’s been a challenge, because I’m not used to being mean, so I’ve had to really find a way to be this character on stage – overall it’s been fun.”

Like other BSM drama productions, Matilda, Jr. is a great way to results of the hard work and time students invest in their passions and interests. Both Brierton and Duckinfield encourage Red Knights and their families to attend this weekend’s performances. “It’s a fun show and amazing opportunity to see that BSM junior high students also put on great productions here.”

Performances are on Friday, Feb. 23 and Saturday, Feb. 24 at 7 p.m., and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 25. Tickets are $10 for adults, $6 for students and seniors. BSM students and children under five get in for free. Purchase your tickets.

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About Benilde-St. Margaret's School
Benilde-St. Margaret's (BSM) is a Catholic, co-educational private prep school for grades 7–12 located in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, that draws its over one thousand students from throughout the Twin Cities Metro Area. It is located in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.

The mission of BSM is to educate, empower, and inspire learners within a Catholic community to lead lives of faith, achieve academic excellence, and contribute meaningfully to a global society.

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