Arts & Reviews

The JCHS Theatre Department Experiences Broadway

By Jessica Rizzo

On December 2, 40 students from the JCHS drama and musical department boarded a bus and headed to New York City for the experience of a lifetime. The students were going to see Matilda, the tony award winner for the best scenic design at the Shubert theater. The other significant part of the trip was a workshop to learn songs and dances from Matilda.

Everyone entered a large dance room where the workshop was to be held. Immediately an anxious, yet, excited aura entered the room. A piano was at the far end of the studio and each student gathered around to learn a short part of the song “Revolting Children.” Emphasis was placed on the dictation of words and the goal was to sing as loud as possible. Each student sung emphatically as if they were a small British child, until the Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 3.29.01 PMsong could be sung without looking at the music. Each vocal part stood out and the harmonies sounded fantastic. Then Geoff Packard, who played the party entertainer and Sergei in the show, taught everyone the choreography to the song. He stood in front and the forty students modelled him in the mirror. The dance consisted of many “karate chops” and other swift movements. Everyone caught on quickly, and each student belted out “we are the revolting children” at the top of their lungs while following Geoff and performing the choreography for the song from the show.

Soon the group was split in two so there was more space to dance. Each individual student executed the dance with expert moves and the smiles on their faces, which suggested they were having fun. After the two groups completed the routine several times, everyone sat down for a question and answer session. From this, Geoff explained he didn’t get into theatre until college, and how he was in the Phantom of the Opera and Wicked. He loves his job and performing in Matilda everyday. All students will agree that the experience of working with Broadway professionals will never be forgotten.

After stopping at Applebees for a quick lunch, everyone piled into the Shubert theater for the performance. The seats were in the mezzanine, specifically the first few rows. Mimi Ryder played Matilda for this particular show, and was outstanding. It was amazing to see these young children, no older than twelve, singing and talking in perfected British accents. The set for Matilda was also impressive; there were letter blocks (a children’s toy) mounted on the walls and they spelled out different words pertaining to the show. The choreography was excellent and captivating. Each child said their lines with great diction, enunciating each and every word with true passion.

As the show ended, everyone left the theater and boarded the bus to head home. The students left the theater having experienced the thrills of Broadway firsthand, and hoped to come back next year. Matilda may be a show about a girl using her superpowers for the good of her peers, but one thing is for sure: Matilda definitely cast a mesmerizing spell on the JCHS theatre department that left everyone in awe.

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