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The Axelrod Performing Arts Center Will Debut MATILDA in March

The Axelrod Performing Arts Center Will Debut MATILDA in March

The Axelrod Performing Arts Center opens "Roald Dahl's Matilda The Musical" on Saturday, March 7, in a brand-new production created by Broadway director-choreographer Luis Salgado. "Matilda" will run for three weekends through March 22.

The musical-the first professional production in Central Jersey-will star New Jersey native Elle Graper as Matilda and Brian Charles Rooney (Broadway's "The Threepenny Opera") as Agatha Trunchbull.

With a book by Dennis Kelly and a score by Tim Minchin, "Matilda" won four Tony Awards when it opened on Broadway and received 43 additional international awards including a record-breaking seven Olivier Awards, the U.K.'s most prestigious theater award.

Elizabeth Ritacco (Brick, NJ) takes the leading role of Miss Honey, Matilda's sympathetic teacher. Playing Matilda's never-loving parents Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood are seasoned New York actors Stephen Petrovich (Lloyd Webber's "Love Never Dies") and Sarah Mae Banning (Amazon's "Marvelous Mrs. Maisel").

Mr. Rooney is making his Jersey Shore debut in the demanding role of the evil headmistress Agatha Trunchbull, having won the prestigious Kurt Weill Foundation's Lys Symonette Award for Dramatic Excellence for his portrayal of Lucy Brown in The Roundabout Theatre Company's production of "The Threepenny Opera."

Returning to the Axelrod for his fourth production, Luis Salgado (Broadway's "In the Heights" and "On Your Feet" and Cirque du Soleil's "Paramour") directs and choreographs "Matilda."

"I'm excited to be working on 'Matilda' at the Axelrod, a theater I keep coming back to because of its consistent growth over the last four years," says Salgado. "At the Axelrod, I have found a home where I can nurture new artists and develop an artistic vision that dares to go outside the traditional standard. I believe in the Axelrod PAC's potential to become a strong foundation for young artists and a space where we can create art with a purpose."

Artistic Director Andrew DePrisco couldn't be more excited to have Salgado return to the Axelrod. "Luis is not only a consummate artist, but a passionate human being who creates 'community'...he's a storyteller, a devoted father to his remarkably talented son, and, perhaps most of all, a humanitarian and an advocate for the less fortunate in our world."

Working with professionals from the New York stage, Salgado is collaborating with lighting designer Christopher Annas-Lee; projections designer Lacey Erb; scenic designer Clifton Chadick; musical director/conductor James Rushin; associate director Valeria Cossu; associate choreographer Erin Weinberger; production stage manager Jenifer Shenker, and production manager Heather Hogan.

Salgado believes that he's mostly moved by the character of Matilda herself, "Her resilience and tenacity matches the tenacity of the humans whose stories I live to tell. She is an outsider, an immigrant in her own family!"

"Roald Dahl's Matilda The Musical" is a universal story that speaks to adults as well as children. On its surface it's a magical story that captures the attention of young people, but its themes are very resonant for today's world.

"As a director I embrace the authors' intention of celebrating the importance of literacy in our society-the power of reading and knowledge," continues Salgado. "We live in a world that continues to move deeper and deeper into technology, a world that doesn't value the power of imagination and discovering new worlds within our own minds. 'Matilda' is a fantastic story about community, self-empowerment, and what a young person can aspire to be when inspired by a book."

The Axelrod "Matilda" company includes: Elle Graper (Matilda), Brian Charles Rooney (Trunchbull), Elizabeth Ritacco (Miss Honey), Sarah Mae Banning (Mrs. Wormwood), Stephen Petrovich (Mr. Wormwood), Carl Sterling Smith (Michael), Florencia Cuenca (Mrs. Phelps), Adriella Goncalves (Amanda), Yesmith Corniel (Bruce), Noah Paneto (Nigel), and Luciana Mitchell (Lavender), Connor Hubbard (Doctor/Sergey) and Imanol Fuentes (Rudolpho).

The adult ensemble includes Olivia Cruz, Gabriella Green, Marianna Herrera Jury, Scarlett Lancon, Murillo Ohl, Matthew Oster, Tyler Palo, Mikki, Reeve and Nicole Sartor. The youth ensemble includes Christopher Abt, Jackie Bahary, Emily Crehan, Nicholas Giordano, Ellie Gothelf Chloe Herera, Eve Johnson, Sofia Mazzei, Nolan O'Keefe, Alexa Origlio, Valentina Joy Reale, Grace Sweeney, Mason Bindler, goand Jack Sweeney.

"Roald Dahl's Matilda the Musical" previews on Friday, March 6, at 7:30. All preview seats are $32. The show opens on Saturday, March 7 and runs three weekends through March 22 with tickets ranging from $38-67. The Axelrod Performing Arts Center located in the Deal Park section of Ocean Township. Tickets can be purchased at Group rates are available for parties of ten or more. The theater, which is located at 100 Grant Avenue in Deal Park, N.J., is handicap accessible and provides free, ample parking onsite.

About the Axelrod Performing Arts Center

The Axelrod Performing Arts Center is one of New Jersey's newest professional theaters, a regional theater located on the Jersey Shore that focuses on musicals, original concerts, ballet, film, arts education and more. The Axelrod is the home of the Axelrod Contemporary Ballet Theater, Monmouth County's only professional ballet company, and the Axelrod Rising Stars Youth Performing Arts Program, which presents fully staged musicals and workshops and classes throughout the year. As one of Central Jersey's fastest growing cultural hubs, bolstered by artistic excellence and an eye toward educating and developing tomorrow's talent, the Axelrod continually works to develop original programming for a variety of diverse communities. The Axelrod PAC is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization that relies on community support for its continued success. For more information, please visit

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