Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

November 11, 2019

REVIEW: Opera House Players, Matilda

Opera House Players, Enfield, CT
through November 24, 2019
by Tim O’Brien

One of the pleasures of reviewing is the occasional ability to contrast professional productions with those of community theater groups. I was fortunate to review a touring production of Roald Dahl’s “Matilda – The Musical” at Hartford’s Bushnell in 2016. And thus, it was not far from my mind for the Opera House Players’ opening night.

In a word, my 6th-grade daughter and I were delighted to see how well a non-professional presentation of this charming script could be executed by a cast of gifted amateurs.

For those unfamiliar with the plot, budding 5-year-old genius Matilda must find a way to rise above her own family of dullards and a school ruled by a monstrous headmistress while coming to terms with her own prodigious intellectual gifts.

The troupe of students hit the opener “Miracle” with great energy, and we settled back happily, knowing this would be a treat. And we weren’t disappointed: across the board, director Becca Coolong, musical director Devon Bakum, and choreographer Krista Leigh Brueno have molded their mostly young actors into a solid, versatile unit. The staging for “Matilda’s” signature “Quiet” is particularly impressive.

Standout performances: young Camille Dziura nails the title role with a perfect blend of winsome and naughty and handles the heavy load of lines and lyrics like a pro. Erin Dugan (Miss Honey) is earnestly sweet and shows the best voice of the cast. Trish Barry (Miss Trunchbull) – while a physically smaller person – nonetheless rules the school with an iron fist.

The few flaws are technical and easily forgiven on an opening night. Set changes could have been crisper overall. The talented band’s volume was frequently too loud for the performers’ lyrics to come through clearly, and Mark Proulx (Mr. Wormwood’s) body mic often scratched intrusively against his face.

“Matilda” is an engaging, enduring story of identity and finding oneself, and the Opera House Players have done Roald Dahl proud.