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Power of dreams: ‘Matilda’ weaves a tale of childhood imagination, empowerment

Musical Theatre Southwest is presenting “Matilda.” (Courtesy of Musical Theatre Southwest)

Doug Montoya has always wanted to be at the helm of a local production of the Tony Award-winning musical “Matilda.”

He’s finally getting his chance.

Montoya’s creative team at Cardboard Playhouse has teamed up with Musical Theatre Southwest in presenting the musical, which begins its three-week run on Friday, Dec. 13.

“It’s pretty fun to be directing for this theater company for the first time,” Montoya says. “We felt like we wanted to do this production for a long time, since we have a children’s theater. When we applied, we hoped it would happen, and here we are.”

The musical is based on Roald Dahl’s novel of the same name, which revels in the anarchy of childhood, the power of imagination and the inspiring story of a girl who dreams of a better life.

With book by Dennis Kelly and original songs by Tim Minchin, “Matilda” has won 47 international awards and continues to thrill sold-out audiences of all ages around the world.

Matilda is a little girl with astonishing wit, intelligence and psychokinetic powers. She’s unloved by her cruel parents but impresses her schoolteacher, the lovable Miss Honey.

During her first term at school, Matilda and Miss Honey have a profound effect on each other’s lives, as Miss Honey begins to recognize and 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 loves thinking up new punishments for those who don’t abide by her rules. But Matilda, who has courage and cleverness in equal amounts, and could be the pupils’ saving grace.

“We actually have a very small cast,” Montoya says. “We had so many talented people who were perfect for the roles. Ms. Honey is played by Abby Van Gerpen, and she is so incredibly talented.”

Matilda is played by Emily Peacock, and Trunchbull is played by Tanner Sroufe.

Montoya says working with kids is his passion.

“We create a space where kids can feel comfortable being who they are,” he says. “This play is really about that. It’s about kids standing up for themselves. We want to create a new generation of actors and of theater lovers.”

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