Despite the challenge of the lingering coronavirus pandemic, the Cache Theatre Company has announced plans to stage the musical comedy “Matilda” in late spring.
LOGAN – The on-again, off-again local production of the Broadway musical “Matilda” is now on-again, slated for April 30 to May 8.
Originally scheduled for spring of 2020, the production by the Cache Theatre Company was postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak in March of that year. But CTC director Whitney Metz now says that the show with its mostly youthful cast will go on despite the lingering pandemic.
“We originally cast ‘Matilda’ in January of last year and were three weeks away from opening when everything got shut down,” Metz explains. “So the kids have been waiting an entire year to get up on that stage (at the Ellen Eccles Theatre).
“We understand the difficulty we face trying to pull this off right now. But we have a plan to keep everyone safe, while still fulfilling our promise to the kids.”
“Matilda” is a musical comedy based on a 1988 novel of the same name by Roald Dahl, the beloved British author of darkly comic stories for children. Originally developed by the Royal Shakespeare Company, “Matilda” debuted in the West End theater district of London in 2011 and on Broadway in 2013. The show’s staging and score have earned numerous honors, including five Tony Awards.
Since the coronavirus outbreak last March, theatrical productions in Cache Valley have been limited to ad hoc performances and small cast shows with strictly limited audiences.
“Matilda,” on the other hand, has a huge cast of both adults and youngsters. Metz says that the CTC plans to cope with that challenge by adopting an innovative rehearsal process.
“We plan on splitting the cast up into three groups and teaching everything separately three times,” she emphasizes. “Keeping those groups small, with masks on at all times, will help us contact trace and avoid having the entire cast in quarantine if that becomes necessary. The idea is that, even if one group has to take a break, we can continue rehearsing with the others. We won’t even combine the groups until the first week of April.”
“Matilda” will be performed at the Eccles Theatre with all the same coronavirus precautions that were in effect during CacheARTS’ successful Random Acts performance series in the summer and fall of 2020. Those precautions included screening for COVID-19 symptoms at the door and social distancing between groups of ticket-holders in the audience.
Similar precautions will be observed backstage during both rehearsal and performances of “Matilda,” according to Metz.
“As we ease into our combined rehearsals,” she explains, “we will continue to wear masks … and keep everyone as spread out as possible. Once we move to the theater, we will have taped out socially distanced assigned spaces backstage for cast members to wait and watch for their cues. Masks will be worn backstage at all times and only removed just prior to going onstage.”
The CTC production team is also hoping that increased availability of COVID-19 vaccines in March and April might allow for larger audiences at the Eccles Theatre.
“We know that we still face many challenges ahead,” Metz admits. “But we’re confident in our plans to keep our cast safe and get the people of Cache Valley back into the theater.”