Ogden’s Ziegfeld Theater Company brings the magic of ‘Matilda’ to Park City
What: The Ziegfeld Theater Company’s “Matilda: The Musical”
When: 8 p.m. on Sept. 6-7, 12-14; and 6 p.m. on Sept. 8 and 15
Where: The Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St.
Cost: $23-$35 for Thursday; $29-$45 for Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays
Morgan Parry has a special connection with Roald Dahl’s 1988 children’s book, “Matilda.”
“We had it in the bathroom when I was growing up, and I would read it when I would sneak away from doing the dishes,” Parry said. “It’s a fast read, so I read it multiple times.”
Parry’s love of the book gave her an acute insight that she was able to fall back on when she was selected to direct the Ziegfeld Theater Company’s production that will open Friday for a two-weekend run at the Egyptian Theatre.
“I remember bawling when I first saw the musical on Broadway,” she said. “I felt like Tim Minchin, who wrote the music and the lyrics, did a great job capturing the emotions by putting the musical numbers in the right places.”
Parry wanted to do the Tony-winning musical justice with her production, and make sure the issues raised in the book are addressed meaningfully.
“The story addresses child abuse, overcoming adversity, feminism and empowerment,” she said. “I feel the musical is topical for any time period.”
“Matilda” is about a young girl who uses her imagination to find the power that helps her rise above her tumultuous childhood.
Parry knew her cast was key to make the story believable and memorable.
“The show is an exhibit of huge dichotomies that pits good against evil, and Roald Dahl was a master of creating these incredible characters,” she said. “Since the musical is set in Britain, working with accents already forces our actors to create a bit of their characters, because they aren’t speaking in their normal voices.”
The antagonists are led by Miss Trunchbull, who Dahl describes as “a gigantic, holy terror.”
“The Trunchbulls are these big, over-the-top roles who only care about money and power,” Parry said. “And that is in direct contrast to the good characters, Matilda and her teacher Miss Honey, who don’t have any money, but really care about intelligence.”
Like the Broadway production, Ziegfeld Theater cast a man, Quinn Kapetanov, to fill Miss Trunchbull’s shoes and dresses.
“Quinn has perfect comedic timing, and he had full permission to do whatever new thing comes to his mind each night, so the young actors who played Matilda had to keep their wits about them and their heads on straight,” Parry said.
Victoria Bingham and Pippa Parry, both 9 years old, have been double cast as Matilda.
Parry will take on the butterflies on Sept. 6, 12 and 13, while Bingham will take the stage Sept. 7-8, 14 and 15.
“They carry the entire show, because they are in almost every scene,” Parry said.
Pippa is Parry’s niece, and to ensure there was no conflict of interest, the director left it up to her production staff to cast the role of Matilda.
“It came down to three girls, and I told everyone I couldn’t be involved in the decision,” Parry said. “They decided on Pippa.”
Pippa is no stranger to the Ziegfeld stage.
“Pippa’s mom, Kristin, is our youth program director,” Parry said. “So Pippa has been performing with us since she was little.”
Bingham, who is known as Tori by family and friends, has an impressive resume, Parry said.
“She just got off the Broadway touring cast of ‘Anastasia,’ where she played the young Anastasia,” she said.
Natalie Peterson, the actress who portrays Miss Honey — as the story goes, the only person who shows Matilda love — was an easy choice.
“Although she hadn’t worked with Ziegfeld before, we knew she was the person for the part,” Parry said. “Miss Honey is a very tender feminist, who is nurturing and motherly, and Natalie is all of that and more.”
After the death of her mother, Miss Honey was raised by Miss Trunchbull, who was her father’s sister, according to Parry.
“Even though Natalie is so cute and tender, she is able to show the depth of the experiences her character has been through,” Parry said.
The director’s two favorite songs in the production are “When I Grow Up” and “Quiet.”
“‘When I Grow Up’ is so beautiful, and I think all of us can relate to being a child and thinking we would have all of this freedom when we became adults,” Parry said. “The reality is adults really aren’t free, because were subject to money, social norms and responsibilities.”
Matilda sings “Quiet” right before she discovers powerful secret that will change her life, the director said.
“She sings the song while she’s getting yelled at by Miss Trunchbull,” Parry said. “It’s during that time when all of Matilda’s work to control her emotions results in a magical moment. It’s like when we stop listening to all the voices and noises around us and delve into your own inner knowledge.”
Parry hopes Park City audiences will see the production and appreciate the work the actors and production staff has put into “Matilda.”
“Everyone who worked on this show from the stage manager, choreographer, costume and set designers and music director were wonderful to work with,” she said. “And to see the characters that I have loved since I was a child come to life through rehearsals was nothing short of amazing.”
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The large fireworks shows scheduled for July 3 and July 4 at Park City Mountain Resort have been canceled because of worries about fire risk and drought conditions.