For the first time ever, Children’s Playhouse of MD (CPM) will present the musical Roald Dahl’s MATILDA. The show, which debuts on Saturday, September 14, will run through September 21 at the Administration Building Lecture Hall on the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) Essex campus. There will also be a special sensory-friendly performance on September 28.
MATILDA, based on the book by Roald Dahl, tells the story of a very advanced kindergartener who is stuck with parents who reject and ignore her. She finds refuge in the library, where she invents a fantasy life, and with her compassionate teacher, Ms. Honey, who helps her stand up to her evil principal, Trunchbull.
This is the first time CPM has performed MATILDA, as it was just released by Music Theatre International last year and there is an application process. According to Diane Smith, Artistic Director for CPM, more than 85 children auditioned for the musical, which features a cast of more than 35 student actors from Baltimore City, and Baltimore, Harford and Montgomery Counties. The cast is made up of children 6-18, and this is a full version of the show complete with elaborate costumes and dance scenes as well as special effects.
Without giving away any of the creativity of the special effects, Smith says Matilda has some magical powers such as moving things with her mind, and some things will disappear. “We had to adapt the special effects to our space, and we don’t have a $5 million budget like they do in New York,” said Smith.
Maeve Acerno stars as Matilda, with Ethan Holler as Trunchbull, and Dylan Morrison and Kathryn Schudel as Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood. Director Liz Boyer Hunnicutt, Music Director Charlotte Evans and Choreographer James Hunnicutt are managing the production.
According to Smith, MATILDA is actually a bigger role than Annie, and it is the largest role ever written for a child. Acerno, 11, lives in Harford County and she started acting with CPM at age 3 or 4. She is a triplet, and her siblings and older sister are all involved in CPM.
CPM is a non-profit community theatre dedicated to youth performers ages 18 and under. Originally named The Young People’s Players, the group was founded in 2001 and was part of the operation of F. Scott Black’s Towson Dinner Theater. After the theater closed, the group changed its name to CPM, became a non-profit and operated on the grounds of Sheppard Pratt. In 2004, CPM accepted a residency at CCBC Essex, where it resides today.
This past weekend, the cast performed MATILDA on CCBC’s main stage for the CPM annual fundraising gala.
“I look forward to the CPM fundraising show at the end of summer as it starts their busy show season. The show was great and kept the attention of the adults and my 3-year-old nephew Hank. It kept us laughing and clapping at all their funny dialogue,” said Will Feuer, a Cockpit in Court season ticketholder.
“In the opening ceremonies it is truly heartwarming to listen to the scholarship recipients and how important CPM was to them as not only young actors but as a child growing into an adult. CPM offers an opportunity for young performers to gain an appreciation of the arts and experience the theatre whether under the lights or behind the scenes,” added Feuer. “CPM students learn commitment and perseverance all while generating responsibility and confidence.”
“CPM is such a valuable place for those kids to let their inner stars shine and become more confident,” said director Liz Boyer Hunnicutt. ”The shows are for families, so when kids see other kids on the stage, they can see themselves up there and it makes them want to be part of the team. It’s an incredible group to be a part of.”
CPM Presents MATILDA
Show dates: Sept. 14, 15, 21, 22, 28 and 29 at 1 p.m.
Sept. 21 at 7 p.m.
Sept. 28 at 4:30 p.m. (Sensory-friendly performance)
7201 Rossville Blvd, Baltimore, MD 21237
Administration Building Lecture Hall (near Parking Lot 4)
Tickets are $10 each and may be purchased in advance online at www.cpmarts.org, by calling the CCBC Box Office at 443-840-ARTS Tuesday – Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., or at the door — space permitting. Advanced purchase recommended. Group tickets are also available.
The Administration Building Lecture Hall is a wheelchair-accessible facility. Please request accommodations at the time of ticket purchase. For more information, please call the Box Office, or the CPM Administrative Office at 443-840-2426. For directions, go to www.ccbcmd.edu.