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The Student News Site of Gretna East High School

The Wingspan

The Student News Site of Gretna East High School

The Wingspan

Acclaimed musical “Matilda” to be performed as debut student performance

Ribar selects show that offers opportunity for collaboration
After+school%2C+the+of+Matilda+the+Musical+practice+their+songs+in+the+choir+room.+The+cast+is+made+up+of+fourth+through+eleventh+graders.+
Peyton Parker
After school, the of “Matilda the Musical” practice their songs in the choir room. The cast is made up of fourth through eleventh graders.
https://www.showtix4u.com/event-details/76232

In less than one month the music and drama departments will present the Griffin auditorium’s debut student performance, “Matilda The Musical” by Dennis Kelly and Tim Minchin, based on the 1988 novel “Matilda” by Roald Dahl.  It is a well known show according to The Royal Shakespeare Company who reports that the musical has won over 100 international awards and over 11 million people have seen it worldwide.

While having the musical in the fall is a change in tradition from what Gretna High School has done in the past, opening with a well known musical has opened the door to several firsts and may well set the tradition for East.

“Matilda,” believe it or not, is about a young girl named Matilda. She is misunderstood by her parents and peers, has telekinetic powers and is very intelligent. When she starts attending primary school, she has a great teacher and amazing friends, but those relationships and her education are overshadowed by a cruel headmaster who seems to hate children–the Trunchbull. Matilda uses her telekinetic powers against Trunchbull to end her tyranny.

Because the show is set in a K-12 school, and there is a need to portray a variety of ages, fourth through eighth-grade students have been invited to be part of the cast. 

“We need kids from little, middle and big,” director and vocal music teacher Pat Ribar said. “We needed to get them [the younger kids] involved in the show if we want to make that type of environment feel real.”  

This particular show was selected by Ribar because he knew he had to pick a show that would work well with not having seniors in the building. 

“It is a popular show that just had a movie come out on Netflix,” Ribar said.  “It involves a lot of young people, and since our school is full of younger people, it makes sense.” 

While the collaboration with elementary and middle school students makes this production unique, it hasn’t come without challenges.  For example, leadership roles that seniors typically would fill at GHS, have had landed on the shoulders of some of the juniors. 

Junior Colton Knott who performed in musicals the past two years at GHS is one such student. His 2023 role as Les in “Newsies” by Harvey Fierstien had very few voice lines. So, in addition to taking his first lead role, Matilda’s dad, Mr. Woormwood, he brings some experience and wisdom to help the younger cast members.

“It has definitely been different, but the musical and the key components still have the same feel,” Knott said. “Not being able to get on the stage has been tough, but we have been able to persevere and move through the difficulties.”

Aside from Knott, another cast member is taking the leap from being an ensemble member to being a lead actress. Sophomore Jada Randecker was cast as Matilda.

“There is a lot of pressure, but I am confident that the show will be great,” Randecker said.  “We have worked hard and are making sure that there is a high bar for the shows to come.” 

The culmination of the auditorium, new roles and new faces will come together on opening night, Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. Additional performances will be on Oct. 6 and 7 at 7 p.m. 

Admittance to the show on premiere night will be free for all who attend, however Friday and Saturday’s shows will be $10 each and available for purchase online at Showtix4u.

 

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Peyton Parker
Peyton Parker, Reporter
This is the first year junior Peyton Parker has been on a journalism staff. With an interest in photography and sports writing, it was fate for Peyton to become a reporter for Gretna East Media and The Wingspan. Aside from taking photos and writing stories, he enjoys baseball and playing Fortnite in his free time. His main goals in the program are to win State Awards for his hard work and work with others to build up the Wingspan. This year, Peyton looks forward to writing invigorating sports features, whimsical entertainment reviews, thought-provoking opinion pieces and everything in between. 
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