Rock Hill Theatre presents Matilda Jr., The Musical


Warisha Ali

An actor’s script for Matilda Jr. sits on a table during one of the play’s rehearsals. Dana Garcia, an audience member, spoke to her experience of watching Matilda Jr. “The play was great; the script was well written, and the actors were astonishing,” Garcia said.

While last school year brought restrictions to Rock Hill, it especially brought challenges to the theater department at RHHS. But, like every new school year, it created a new platform for the theater department to build. Matilda Jr. is the first fall musical production in Rock Hill Theatre History, which is based on the Broadway production of Matilda. The directors of the production are Sariea Haney, Tim Doyle, and. Kirsten King. The music and lyrics are by Tim Minchin, and Dennis Kelly wrote the book.

“We thought this show was really well fitting for the kids we have, and that’s how we pick our shows [and] it’s what suits our students the best, and it allows a lot of casting because there are two really large ensembles in our show,” Haney said.

“We wanted the colors to give kind of a whimsical feel, so we went for cool tones like greens, purples, and blues,” Haney said.

The design aspect of the production at RHHS was thought up by all of the theater directors, wanting the show to be colorful, lively, and fun to watch.

“We are purposeful with our coloring [and] If you come to see it, you would notice each scene has its own mood, and we try to reflect [the mood] with color,” Haney said.

“We wanted it to be childlike, and also we wanted to be similar to but not a straight copy of the Broadway production, so that was our inspiration for the blocks around the set [and] the color scheme and just all of the elements in the play comes from wanting to feel like a child,” King said.

A Peek Behind the Curtain

“We have, what you call, Box Week, where every class had to make the cardboard squares that you would see around the proscenium of the stage,” King said.

According to King, there are 40-45 students who are part of the production that you can see while watching the musical, and there are also another 20 who work behind the scenes to create the stage magic.

“My favorite thing was getting to incorporate things from elementary school,” Haney said, “so we got things like a swing set and a teeter-totter, [and] we have a little scene that is kind of like recess, and they are all playing games.”

Tim Doyle is the tech director who helps backstage for the musical.

“Building the sets, lights, and sound for the play was enormously challenging, not just because it was our first full-scale musical in the Rock Hill Auditorium, but also because of the sheer scale of this show. We were really ambitious with our designs, and the execution had to be solid,” Doyle said. “I think we achieved what we wanted to [and] it also helps us know what we’re capable of for future shows.” Doyle is the tech director for Matilda Jr.

Emma Elting is one of the actors who play the role of Matilda.

“It is just really fun to dance to and sing!” Emma Elting said. As one of the people who play the title character of Matilda, Elting said that her favorite song was The Smell of Rebellion.

There are an A and B casts for a few of the lead roles in the show, including Matilda, Ms. Honey and Trunchbull. This means that these leads will be performing on alternating nights, but all other parts perform under both casts (A and B). The A cast performs on Wednesday and Friday night as well as Thursday morning. B cast performs on Thursday and Saturday night, as well as Friday morning.

“I love it; I love it. The music is super catchy and fun. And it’s a show for everyone; there is not like a limited audience.” Haney said.

The Rock Hill Theater will perform Matilda Jr. at 6:30 p.m. from Nov. 3 to Nov. 6 each night. Tickets are seven dollars for students and 10 dollars for adults. The musical is located at the RHHS Auditorium. Tickets will be sold online or at the door.


This article was updated on November 6th  for the clarity of a quote.