Sunday, July 21, 2019

10-Year-Old Charity Rose Captivates As Moonlight’s “Matilda”

If it takes a ten -year old bookworm to enlighten the world around her, given that her parents think books are disgusting, so be it. Matilda is on a mission, like it not, to follow her best instincts or otherworldly insights not to fall into the dregs of her family’s misdeeds, and they are many.

Moonlight Stage Productions is currently mounting the regional premiere of the Broadway musical “Matilda” with book by Dennis Kelly and music and lyrics by Tim Minchin through Aug.  3rd. The story based on the 1988 children’s novel, is by Ronald Dahl (“Charlie and The Chocolate Factory”, “James And The Giant Peach”). It was also made into a movie of the same name.
Kevin Hafso-Koppman (Adriana Zuniga)
In 2012 it won seven Oliver Awards and made its official stop at the Ahmanson in 2015, but to my knowledge has not been to San Diego on any national tour and that’s what makes the show at Moonlight under the deft direction of Jamie Torcellini (“The Producers”), highly energy choreography by Colleen Kollar Smith (“School Song”, “Revolting Children”) and under the baton of musical director/conductor Elan McMahan so wonderful, as in a breath of fresh of air.

Ten -year old Matilda (Charity Rose) has been fighting for her place in the world almost her whole lifetime. At home her scam artist of a dad Mr. Wormwood (Kevin Hafso- Koppman) wanted a boy when she was born so insists on calling her ‘Boy’,” “You’re a Wormwood, start acting like one!”
Ashley Fox Linton and  Charity Rose (Ken Jacques)
Her dingbat mom (Kristin Miller-Weston) dismisses her as reading too many books (“Loud”) and not concentrating on her looks, calls her a little ‘twit’.  

At school the headmistress, the grotesque Miss Turnchbull (Randall Hickman) blames Matilda when another of her classmates at Crunchem Hall pulls a stunt on her. Later on in the show Matilda gets her comeuppance.

 The even headed and starry eyed girl with her telekinetic powers manages to keep her cool with her books, her looks (as in her eyes) and the comfort of her loving teacher Miss Honey (Ashley Fox Linton, “This Little Girl”, “My House”) and the friendship of the concerned librarian Miss Phelps (Shirley Johnson) by sharing a long and involved story about an acrobat, (Joy Newbegin) and an escapologist (Cody Ingram) who wanted to have a baby. (The silk acrobat dancing is something to see)  

Members of Company (Adriana Zuniga)
Moonlight’s young cast is made up of about nine hyper active over achieving (ensemble) taking charge of their fate talented actors. By singing and dancing their way to freedom to be and strive is at the heart of this imaginative and quirky, riotously filled with surprises musical. Take note of the dance stomping talented Alexander Ikizyan who blew the house away when he stepped up on one of the school desks and...well started a movement.  

It makes you want to put your own kids into musical theatre. Referred to by some a the ‘best musical since ‘Lion King’ this unconventional children-centric musical it’s a crowd pleaser with children leading the imaginative dancing with support or not from their adult cheerleaders and/or or detractors.  

Charity Rose embodies the character of Matilda like a hand in glove. For over two hours this youngster keeps the audience more than starry eyes and engaged with her magnificent and I must add adult like performance.
Randall Hickman as Ms. Turnchbull
Kevin Hafso-Kuppman is a riot as the dumb and dumber Mr. Wormwood dressed in a plaid suit and some outrageously clownish shoes (credit Shon LeBlanc for costume design) trying to scam some Russian mobsters into buying new/old cars whose audometers he’s turned back, somehow! He'll tell how. 

But especially while addressing the audience at the opening of Act II, he had the entire auditorium in stitches as he manages to pull one of the kids in the front row into a discussion.  As for Kristina Miller-Weston, well there’s a nightmare of a mother for you as her only preoccupation is the way she looks.

Charity Rose, Joy Newbrgin, Cody Ingram, Shirley Johnson (Ken Jacques)
Randall Hickman has done it again by turning in a bravura performance as the bullying headmistress dressed like a character out of Puccini’s “Turandot”. Frightening would be an understatement for his/her character.

For the good guys, Miss Linton and Johnson loving teacher and understanding librarian lend some balance to this odd little piece by rendering sweet voices and kind hearts and a musical worthy of the strong production Moonlight has to offer.
Alexander Ikizyan with the revolting children (Adriana Zuniga)
Stephen Gifford designed the set, Jennifer Edwards the lighting, Jim Zadai sound, costumes coordinated by Carlotta Malone, Roslyn Lehman and Renetta Lloyd.

“Even if you’re little you can do a lot.” Matilda

See you at the theatre.


Dates: Through Aug. 3rd
Organization: Moonlight Stage Productions
Phone: 760-724-2110
Production Type: Musical
Where: 1250 Vale Terrace Drive, Vista
Ticket Prices: Start at $25.00
Web: moonlightstage.com
Venue: Moonlight Amphitheatre
Photo: Ken Jacques and Adriana Zuniga

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