Matilda the Musical (based on the Roald Dahl book of the same name) has been enjoying a stellar run at Ed Mirvish theatre. The production has won over fifty major international awards, including fourteen for Best Musical. In it, Matilda uses the telekinetic powers of her mind to save her beloved teacher – and the rest of the school – from the terrifying Miss Trunchbull.
We talked to the actresses playing the production’s pint-sized protagonist, Matilda: Hannah Levinson (nine) and Jenna Weir (ten) are from Toronto. Jaime Maclean (ten) is from Vancouver.
SDTC: What was your reaction when you found out you got the role of Matilda?
Hannah Levinson: It was the March break holiday, and my mom got a call from my agent early one morning. I was still asleep, and she woke me up with the news. I burst into tears and couldn’t decide whether to laugh or cry. I asked her to repeat it over and over again to make sure I was hearing it correctly. I started jumping around the house and then had to keep the news “quiet and to myself” for many weeks before it was officially announced.
Jaime Maclean: I let out a little scream. Then I went very quiet with a perma-smile. Lastly, I cried tears of happiness. It was a dream come true, but I was going to miss my friends and family.
Jenna Weir: My mom bought a cake that said, “Congrats Matilda” and put it down in front of me. Once I realized what it meant I gasped and started screaming. I was so excited. The hardest part was keeping it a secret from all my friends for over a month until the public announcement in April.
Matilda could move things with her mind. If you could have a secret superpower, what would it be, and why?
HL: I would want to go back in time to try to change things. I think that would be helpful if I were Matilda, as then I would be able to fix Miss Honey’s life, and I would be able to change her parents’ mistaken attitudes towards learning and reading. I would be able to change the Wormwood’s cruelty towards Matilda, and also ensure that Miss Trunchbull appreciates children.
JM: I would like to be able to tap people on the shoulder and make them kind. So if someone was being mean, I’d just tap them and they would find kindness.
JW: I’d love to be able to grant wishes so I can make people’s dreams come true. Being Matilda is a dream come true for me and it would be great to be able to help other people reach their dreams.
How did you prepare for this role?
HL: My preparation for the role started even before I was cast. I was familiar with the score and had read the book and seen the movie. But my real preparation was helped by the incredible training I received from the directors in the show. Over the two-month rehearsal process, I was so lucky to receive such amazing coaching in acting, singing, dancing, voice production, dialect and so much more – all training that I would never have received if I didn’t have this incredible opportunity. I also made sure I had time for relaxation (drawing and listening to music) and some silliness to make sure I didn’t feel too stressed or overwhelmed.
If you could describe Matilda in one word, what would it be?
JW: Unique. She is truly one-of-a-kind.
What do you enjoy most about this musical?
JM: Mostly, I really enjoy all the people I have met. The actual musical itself is so jam-packed with action and emotion and I really enjoy being a part of the action. I love taking the audience on a rollercoaster of emotions.
Have you seen the show yet? Better get your tickets here. Matilda runs until November 27, 2016.