Students Bring Roald Dahl Book to Life

By Jenna Poppell

For the second year in a row, Brooke Molitor, Oak Hall’s Fine Arts Chair, with assistance from Lower School music teacher Erin Cushing, Upper School music teacher Dr. Dominique Clance, and Oak Hall alumni Lauren Wilkinson as assistant director, is producing an all-school musical, premiering Oct. 10. This year’s musical is a version of Roald Dahl’s book, Matilda, and features students ranging from third to 12th grade.

“This play was chosen because I think it has a great message, but most importantly I felt like it was a great production for our students and that it fits the skillset of our students,” Molitor stated. She wanted it to not only showcase the student’s abilities, but also challenge them to step out of their comfort zone.

“When I Grow Up” – “Matilda” Rehearsal, Sept. 28

While the idea of an all-school musical is still fairly new, there is no doubt that it will continue in the future. “I think it’s a great opportunity, a unique opportunity for all of our students to work across divisions,” Molitor said. One special part of being in the musical is that the students are able to form special relationships that might not have happened otherwise. The younger students have role models and the older students have the chance to take on a leadership role. 

The students at Oak Hall agree with Molitor when it comes the connections the theater program provides. Sophomore Reece Olinger, who plays Ms. Honey, really enjoys the relationships she has developed with the younger kids. Classmate Julia Curtis, who was given the role of Mrs. Wormwood, enjoys having fun with the cast, but also getting to be someone else for a change. “I have to talk in a very different accent,” she said. “In the beginning, it was really hard to pronounce words, but I have gotten pretty good at it,” Curtis said proudly. She recommends the play to young children and adults, encouraging anyone interested in musical theater to start with the Oak Hall theater program.

 “It’s just a really great show with a great message about standing up for yourself and finding your voice.”

Brooke Molitor

Seventh grader Grant Curtis was excited when he was casted as the “bad guy”. “I am Matilda’s horrible father and I just get to be a totally goofy car salesman,” he said. Grant admits the thing he is looking forward to the most would have to be performing for the Alachua County schools. “Seeing some of the kid’s faces last year, they were just so happy and overjoyed to see our show. That really excited me,” he said excitedly.

Grant also noted that the musical provides more opportunities for him to make friends of all ages. “I feel like I get to meet a lot more people from different grades, sort of as equals, you know, it’s a lot easier to socialize and make new friends,” he mentioned.

Members of the Upper School band have been practicing their instruments music since the summer. Even though participating in the musical does not equate to a grade in class, the musicians spend many hours of their own time to perfect the music. “The ‘Matilda’ music is written for a professional orchestra and is very difficult for a high school student to learn,” Dr. Clance said. Up until around two weeks before the show is performed, the singers of the show, and the musicians, practice separately. “It is much easier to put the music together once we all meet in the theater to run through the show,” Dr. Clance explained.

“Matilda” runs from Oct. 10 – 12 at 7 p.m. in the Edith D. Cofrin Theater. Admission is free.