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Musical theater returns to Ephrata


Roald Dahl's children's classic, Matilda makes its way to the EPAC stage. The show is full of humor, energy, and a tribute to the underdogs of the world. Carly Geiter plays the eponymous character with spunk and joy. I was very impressed with how many songs and scenes she had to carry on her own. Each one reflected a great deal of confidence and stage presence.

Isaac Silver and Erin Quinn play Matilda's dad and mom, Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood. Both actors were appropriately self-centered and obnoxious in both appearance and tone. However, every so often, a snippet of dialogue or song lyric went by me, due partially, to their heavy cockney accents.

Maya Burdick is very sweet as Miss Honey, Matilda's teacher. She has the difficult job of playing the "normal" adult among all the crazies and baddies she encounters.

Speaking of "crazies" and "baddies", Drew Becker does a phenomenal job as evil principal, Miss Trunchbull. Becker made some very interesting choices with his character that paid off handsomely. It would have been very easy to make the villain a caricature complete with lots of screaming and physically aggressive movement, but Becker does neither. His Trunchbull has this choppy, slow delivery with multiple awkward pauses. He makes her scarier because you can't predict what she will do or say next.

Becker deserves extra credit for shying away from jokes at the expense of gender. He never ventures into "Some Like it Hot" territory. His humor comes from the words and actions of a strong, domineering female...not cheap laughs stemming from "a guy in a dress".

The kids that serve as Matilda's classmates played their roles with energy and enthusiasm. One concern that I had was that combined voices during choral parts seemed relatively soft. I was not sure if this was due to microphone challenges, opening night jitters, or another factor-but I expected a louder sound, more akin to a typical production of Oliver or Annie.

Sets were fun and interesting. They often had a crooked Dr. Seuss vibe. Orchestration, props, costumes, and direction all added positively to the tone of the show. Choreography was vibrant but repetitive. (There was a lot of fist pumping and dabbing).

After some pandemic postponements, it was great to see EPAC finally bring this show to the stage. Musicals on the Sheridan Bigler stage have been absent for too long. Welcome back! The show runs through August 7. Tickets and more info can be found on their site.

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