Today’s Poll

Daily Dose — Capitol Theatre Summer Youth Program Celebrates 35th Year with Matilda the Musical

Ari Lord
By Ari Lord
July 25th, 2023

As the Capitol Theatre Summer Youth Education and Mentorship program celebrates its 35th year, students and supporting adults are working hard to bring Matilda the Musical to the stage.

Inspired by the twisted genius of Roald Dahl, the Tony Award-winning Matilda the Musical is a captivating masterpiece that revels in the anarchy of childhood, the power of imagination and the inspiring story of a girl who dreams of a better life.

The show is Directed by Heather Shippit, with Musical Direction by Malaika Horswill, Choreography by Carly Brandel, and the Assistant Directior is Jesse Greenway.Matilda Wormwood is played by Lhasa Miranda-Coupal, Agatha Trunchbull by Luzura Ramos-Swanton, Miss Honey by Kara Strong, Mr. Wormwood by Conor Peters, Mrs. Wormwood by Jenny Hadfield, and Michael Wormwood by Liam Johnson. 

Shippit loved seeing Matilda on Broadway a decade ago, so decided to bring it to life, she says.

“We had a lot of really talented younger students, and we thought it would be a great play to showcase. It is a magical, beautiful show that has a special place in my heart.”

Shippit has a long history of involvement with the program.

“I started as a summer student with the program when I was 18. Then in 2009, I directed one of the summer shows, and last year I did Newsies,” says Shippit, a drama teacher for 17 years at Mount Sentinel who recently got hired at L.V. Rogers starting in September.

This show involves a huge cast and crew.

“We have over 50 young adults under 19 on any given day working on this production. It’s huge,” says Shippit.

So far, the rehearsals are going well.

“The show’s design is so gorgeous, from costumes to sets to lights; it is beautiful. I think we’re ahead of the game in terms of our preparations for the design aspect. So now it’s about finessing all of the acting moments,” says Shippit.

About a week of the program is dedicated to teaching the kids how to transition sets.

“Set changes is something that I think audiences don’t think about. All the actors move the sets and try to do it seamlessly,” says Shippit.

Stage Manager for the show and Marketing Coordinator at the Capitol Theatre, Kyla Hurst, says ticket sales are going well.

“They’re starting to pick up. Last year we had a huge turnout, and the last show sold out, the matinee. And I predict we’ll have a similar turnout this year.”

Shippit says the program has an incredible track record regarding impact.

“The summer program has a lot of alumni, all going off into different fields, whether working professionally in theatre, film, music, or directing choirs. We have people who have been involved in the summer show all over the world. Alison Deon is really active working in film and television in Toronto. Joel Cottingham is very active in Canadian film and television.”

But the program also fosters talented people who stay local.

“This program builds a community of artists that go on to live and work and stay in Nelson. Sydney Black, who owns Black Productions, puts on one or two high-calibre professional shows yearly. She was a summer student here in the program,” says Shippit. 

Shippit says that production is always high level in this program.

“It’s treated like a professional production. A team of 15 professional adults support the play, from set design and building to lighting design and costume design. Students are 100% supported. We have three weeks to put on a professional show, and that’s exactly what happens in the industry.”

This year is shaping up a little differently, says Shippit.

“This program is usually for 12 to 19-year-olds, but this year, because we were doing Matilda, we opened up an opportunity to have nine 7 to 12-year-olds for three of the numbers to give them a taste of the summer show. We call them our ‘little chorus.’”

There is also a new technical aspect that gives students unique experiences.

“There are summer students from 10 to 15 working with professional technicians on building props, creating sound cues, doing lighting, helping with the rigging for a swing that comes in. So they are getting a mini training as theatre technicians too, which is great,” says Shippit.

Hurst points out that “the community it builds” is a remarkable program aspect.

The show runs from Thursday, July 27th to Sunday, July 30th, and tickets are $22.50 for adults and $17.50 for students.

Tickets for  Matilda the Musical are available through the Capitol Theatre Box Office here. — Submitted photo


Other News Stories