BWW Interview: Darcy Stewart as Mrs. Wormwood in MATILDA THE MUSICAL on Tour
Have you ever looked back on your childhood and wished you could do things differently? Have you known people who had less than perfect childhoods? Bullying and parental neglect are just part of poor Matilda's young life as she tries to find her way. MATILDA THE MUSICAL is a family-fun show and is currently touring around North America. Canadian Darcy Stewart plays the not-so-nice Mrs. Wormwood; Matilda's neglectful mother. BWW caught up with Stewart to chat MATILDA and playing an "awful mom" as she and the cast prepare to play at the historic Majestic Theatre in San Antonio, Texas.
How did you first get interested in performing?
I think I was about three years old. I just started dancing and I remember those recitals that you have in front of all those people and effecting an audience like that. There's absolutely no other feeling in the entire world like it. I just became addicted to it. And I thought this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. I actually didn't know it was a job when I was a kid. I thought it was just something you did. I thought Broadway was something people did after work. I figured out it was a job and my parents - I have the most supportive parents in the entire world - they said, "You're not doing anything except for performing. You were born to do this. We support you full force." So, then I started doing it as a career and here I am. I went to college for singing, dancing, and acting. It was a private career college that only does singing, dancing, and acting. It's sort of like FAME. It's in Toronto. It's called Randolph Academy. I went to an art school for 7th and 8th grade as well. You realize that arts' kids are the best in the world.
I noticed you played a lot of fun roles over the years. And now you are playing Mrs. Wormwood in MATILDA. Tell us a little bit about that character.
She's awful. I love her. She's an awful, awful mother. I have a lot of kids that come up to me after the show and get scared that I'm Mrs. Wormwood. They go, "You're a really mean mom." And I go, "I know I am." She's awful to Matilda. She only cares about looks not books. One of her best lines is, "Looks are more important than books," talking to Miss Honey, Matilda's teacher. She says you need to be focusing on your looks because you're not doing that well. She is an awful mother. She doesn't care about her daughter at all. She only cares about salsa dancing. That's her passion. And her salsa partner, Rudolpho whom she loves way more than her husband which is very fun to hang out with another man onstage. She's just an awful mother who loves looking good and loves her nails and loves her hair. Her wig weighs about ten pounds and her costume is probably about ten pounds all-together. So, I'm lugging around a big caricature of this character onstage with her costume and her hair and her sparkly heels and her tights. It's wild and a lot of fun.
What do you do to prepare to play Mrs. Wormwood every night?
I do an intensive vocal and physical warm-up. But, in terms of getting into the character, it's a lot more fun to play that kind of role. It's not that hard to get into. I have the perfect co-star. My husband, Mr. Wormwood, helps me get into that as well. We get to play off of each other. We get to be mean which is so fun. Different every night. So, just getting ready for the role is a really intensive warm-up, making sure I'm grounded and then just going for it.
I've only seen the movie and I'm looking forward to seeing the play.
Some of our cast mates haven't even seen the movie. The movie is an amazing movie. It's so good.
And speaking of cast members. What is it like working with all the kids every night?
It's amazing. I don't get to work solely with the kids other than Matilda but they're little superstars. They push the show further every single night. They're so professional and incredibly talented and so smart. And you know, they have school during the day and the show at night every single day. They're the hardest workers of the show. They carry the show on their backs. It's an absolute privilege to be working with them onstage. They're so talented and so much fun. I love it so much.
Do you find you are letting your inner child out more when you're around them?
No. I find them to be more mature because as professionals it's not really little children. They're sort of like little adults. We're all friends with each other. We don't treat them like kids. We treat them like professionals just like you treat your friends.
What are some of the things you've learned about yourself since you've been playing Mrs. Wormwood?
I've probably learned that I love playing evil characters. I love being super physical and over-the-top. I love playing caricatures of characters. I think the bullies in the show are caricatures through Matilda's mind are bigger and badder than they would be because it's through her eyes and they're the bullies to Matilda. So I love playing over-the-top. I love playing super silly, super fun, and super mean. I realize I love doing that. And I love being physical which is great about the Wormwoods. Mr. Wormwood is super physical and Mrs. Wormwood is constantly salsa dancing which is so, so, so fun. Just being really physical onstage.
Being out on the road, you get to see a lot of great places. What are some that stand out the most to you?
Probably Florida. We went to Ft. Lauderdale and to Orlando. That was really fun. We went to Vegas. That was so much fun. For the show and outside the show, it was amazing. We went to Salt Lake City which is really nice. We went to Minneapolis, Minnesota which is nice. You know, it's funny you can see the dynamics between the audiences in each city which is fun to see how loud or how quiet or how much a city applauds. We've been to Providence, Rhode Island which is one of my favorites.
Have you ever been to Texas?
I've been to Austin, Texas when I was a kid.
While you're in San Antonio, don't forget to see the Riverwalk and the Alamo.
We do a lot of things as a cast so that will be one of the things we will do.
Don't miss this family-friendly fun show at the Majestic Theatre in San Antonio. MATILDA THE MUSICAL plays from June 6-11, 2017. Get your tickets at majesticempire.com
PHOTO CREDIT: Gayle McCracken