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Murray Journal

‘Matilda the Musical’ opens at Murray Amphitheater

May 30, 2022 04:49PM ● By Shaun Delliskave

Maevah Hiatt stars as Matilda at the Murray Amphitheater’s “Matilda the Musical.” (Photo courtesy of Candy Tippetts)

By Shaun Delliskave | [email protected]

Children are maggots, or that’s what the antagonist in “Matilda the Musical” would have you believe. The beloved children’s book, popular childhood movie, and then award-winning play “Matilda” has warmed the hearts of audiences over and over. “Matilda the Musical” debuts at the Murray Amphitheater June 16-24.

Matilda is a little girl with astonishing wit, intelligence, and psychokinetic powers. She is unloved by her cruel parents—Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood—but impresses her schoolteacher, the highly loveable Miss Honey. However, the school’s tyrannical and cruel headmistress, Miss Trunchbull, believes in Crunchem Hall’s motto: “Bambinatum est Magitum,” or “Children are Maggots,” and sets out to disparage Matilda. But Matilda has courage and cleverness. Her bravery teaches Miss Honey and her classmates an important lesson: even though life can be challenging, “nobody but me is gonna change my story,” so “sometimes you have to be a little bit naughty.”

Roald Dahl, known for “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “James and the Giant Peach,” published “Matilda” two years before his death. In 1996, a film adaptation that starred Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman received mixed reviews. Playwright Dennis Kelly and composer Tim Minchin revamped the film into a musical. The Royal Shakespeare Company desired to bring Dahl’s work to the stage in 2009, so they reached out to Kelly, a writer for film and television, and Minchin, a comedian and musician, to work on the show before beginning to assemble the creative team.

The play debuted in London in 2011, winning seven Olivier Awards. It won over American audiences in 2013, winning five Tony Awards, including Best Book of a Musical.

Maevah Hiatt brings experience to the lead role at a young age, originally auditioning as Matilda a year ago at SCERA theater. Returning to the Murray stage, Hailee Christensen, who performed in last year’s “The Little Mermaid,” plays Matilda’s mentor Miss Honey. Starring as the malcontent parents, the Wormwoods, are Alina Mower, who was recently in Desert Star Playhouse’s “The Greatest Snowman,” and Adam Wilkins, Cottonwood High School’s drama teacher. Finally, as the villain Mrs. Trunchbull, Brinton Wilkins will again don a dress for a role that he performed on stage before. He most recently performed in “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” at the Parker Theatre.

At the helm of Murray’s production is veteran director Candy Tippetts. She recently directed “Fiddler of the Roof,” “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” and Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” at the Murray Amphitheater stage. In addition, she has performed in productions at the Hale Centre Theatre, The Grand Theater, Riverton, Draper, Midvale, and Bountiful Performing Arts.

Behind the baton is Anthony Buck. Buck is the Artistic Director for Utah Vocal Arts Academy’s Summer Opera Festival and teaches music courses at Salt Lake Community College and Utah Valley University.

Choreography is by Alan LaFleur. LaFleur has been in countless theater productions both as an actor and choreographer and was a former cast member of “The Young Americans.” His last performance was as Ursula in last year’s Murray Amphitheater’s “The Little Mermaid,” where he served as that show’s choreographer.

Jared August designed the sets, Katrina Decarver created the costumes, and the play’s stage manager is Katie Revels.

“This production is magical—literally,” Tippetts said. “Watch for some of the magic that Matilda uses to stand up to the bullies in her life.”

Murray City Cultural Arts presents “Matilda the Musical” June 16-18, 20, 23-24 at 8 p.m. at the Murray Amphitheater (495 E. 5300 South). Tickets are $10 adult and $8 for child/senior/military ID, available at the Murray Parks and Recreation Office or online through Regtixs (