Interview: Sean Quigley in MATILDA-THE MUSICAL at The Growing Stage

By: Sep. 24, 2019
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Interview: Sean Quigley in MATILDA-THE MUSICAL at The Growing Stage

Matilda The Musical will open the 2019/2020 Season at The Growing Stage (TGS), The Children's Theatre of New Jersey. It will be on the Netcong stage from October 4 to October 20 with performances on Friday evenings at 7:30 pm and on Saturdays and Sundays at 4:00 PM. The show features a book by Dennis Kelly; music and lyrics by Tim Minchin; direction by TGS's Executive Director, Stephen L. Fredericks; choreography by Jillian Petrie; and musical direction by Stephen Fox. Inspired by the twisted genius of Ronald Dahl, it is ideal for the entire family.

Matilda is a little girl with astonishing wit, intelligence and psychokinetic powers. She's unloved by her cruel parents but impresses her schoolteacher, the highly loveable Miss Honey. Over the course of her first term at school, Matilda and Miss Honey have a profound effect on each other's lives, as Miss Honey begins not only to recognize but also appreciate Matilda's extraordinary personality. Matilda's school life isn't completely smooth sailing, however - the school's mean headmistress, Miss Trunchbull, hates children and just loves thinking up new punishments for those who don't abide by her rules. But Matilda has courage and cleverness in equal amounts, and could be the school pupils' saving grace had the pleasure of interviewing Sean Quigley who plays Miss Trunchbull in Matilda The Musical.

Sean is thrilled to be returning to The Growing Stage, having previously appeared in 'The Neverending Story'; 'Beauty and The Beast'; 'Boy Sees Flying Saucer' and 'John Henry'. Originally from the UK - Sean studied acting at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) and Musical Theatre at The Royal Academy of Music (RAM). UK Theatrical Credits include: Lady Jane - 'All Male Patience' (Union Theatre); Ensemble - 'Thirteen Days' (Arcola Theatre); Jake Blues - 'The Blues Brothers Live!' (Edinburgh Fringe); Johnny Carson - 'The Rat Pack - Live' (Arts Theatre West End); Hans - 'Berlin - The Musical' (Bloomsbury Theatre). UK Concert Performances include: Backing vocalist - Elton John (iTunes Music Festival & London Palladium); Soloist - 'Friday Night is Music Night' (BBC Radio 2); Soloist - 'Opening Night Gala - Silas Marner' (St. James Theatre) Recent US Theatrical Credits: Michael - 'Of The Sea' (Access Theatre); Simon Eyre - 'The Shoemaker's Holiday' (Storm Theatre); Richard - 'Neverwhere' (Red Monkey Theatre); Ned - 'The Normal Heart' (HPAC).

We know you hail from the United Kingdom. Were there performances or performers that impressed you when you were young?

As a child I loved going to the pictures (movie theatre!) and would see anything with Harrison Ford in - Indiana Jones was my hero! I also fondly remember seeing Phantom of The Opera in London for the first time - with John Owen-Jones playing Phantom and thinking - I want to do that!

I remember following his career over the years, and after graduating I was fortunate enough to work with him on 'Berlin - The Musical' which was a kind of full circle moment for me!

We'd love to know a little about your education and how it influenced your career?

I actually left high school at 16 and started studying acting at a community college - from there I went on to be offered a place at RADA - at the time my dream was to work with the RSC and make my way through the Shakespearean back-catalogue. Upon leaving drama school - I found myself working almost exclusively in Musical Theatre - eventually going on to study it as an MA at The Royal Academy of Music.

I was so lucky during my training to have access to the very best teachers and mentors in the world of Theatre. It's all a bit overwhelming and hard to take in at the time when you are young and eager to get on stage - but I find myself remembering tips and advice offered to me back then on a nearly daily basis - my training is the foundation of almost all the choices I make on stage to this day.

Why do you think family and children's theatre is so important?

It's where the seeds are first planted. Not only the seeds of performance but of empathy. As actors - part of what we do is to study and capture the emotions of those around us and then present it on stage as a sort of mirror that we can reflect back at the audience. Children are the perfect audience - they are inherently trusting and take to new ideas and experiences like a sponge! I see it as not only a great honor to perform for a young audience - but also as a huge responsiblity that should not be taken for granted.

How do you like working at The Growing Stage?

This can be a challenging industry in which to work, but to put it in sports terms it often feels like playing a never ending road of away games- but whenever I get the opportunity to come back and audition at The Growing Stage and see the same friendly faces behind the table it feels like playing to the home crowd. I have made memories and forged friendships on this stage.

Tell us a little bit about your character, Miss Trunchbull in Matilda.

She is a former Olympic champion turned headmistress - who hates nothing in the world more than children. She is a formidable woman! We all have memories of that nightmare teacher that we dreaded coming in the path of - she is exactly that architype - cranked all the way up to 11. ...and she is an actor's dream to play!

What would you like audiences to know about the show?

It really appeals to all ages - we a know what a genius Roald Dahl was and Tim Minchin (Music/Lyrics) is widely admired back home in the UK for his various work in comedy and music - but not quite as much in the states. His score is full of real gems - that don't talk down to children as performers or audience members. I would highly recommend it for all fans of Dahl as this show follows the original book quite faithfully.

Can you share with us any of your future plans?

Rest! I have had a fairly busy year for shows so far, which is great - but nothing on the horizon for the rest of 2019 as of yet. But I am always on the look out for interesting people and projects, so watch this space.

Anything else, absolutely anything you want BWW NJ readers to know.

Alongside my work as a performer - I work as a vocal coach in NYC for Voice Academy, booking details can be found at - I am always excited to work with fresh faces!

Tickets for Matilda The Musical and the upcoming season's perfomances at The Growing Stage are currently available. The Theatre is located at 7 Ledgewood Avenue, Netcong, NJ 07857. For more information, please visit or call (973) 347-4946.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Sean Quigley