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St. Pat’s staging story of one extraordinary little girl

Published on

Cathy Dobson

In just a few days, St. Patrick’s production of Matilda The Musical opens at the Imperial Theatre and Jaymie Cowen says she couldn’t be more ready.

That’s not just confidence speaking. That’s months of memorization and hard work at play.

Jaymie, 15, won the title role of Matilda knowing how demanding it would be.

Matilda is an engaging, mischievous, genius of a kid.  And she talks a lot.

There’s rarely a moment when Matilda isn’t on stage and she has frequent, lengthy monologues.

“There’s a ton of memorization but I’ve been working at it a long time and, with a lot of study, it finally gets there,” said Jaymie.

“I’ve got some scenes where I just talk for 10 minutes, so my family has helped me learn it by reading lines to me or I just play them over and over on iTunes.”

The commitment came easily, said Jaymie, who has previous theatre experience with Hidden Talents, where she played the young Cosette in Les Miserables.

“I’ve wanted to be Matilda since I saw the play in Toronto when I was nine,” she said.  “I fell in love with the character.

“She’s so strong and so brave and she has a big imagination.”

Matilda The Musical has won over audiences since it was adapted from Roald Dahl’s quirky 1988 novel.

It premiered on Broadway in 2013 and has earned 47 international awards, including five Tonys.

The St. Pat’s is the first to stage it in Sarnia, said producer and drama teacher Martina Austin.

“The rights (for amateur theatre groups) just became available last year,” she said.  “We knew we had some Grade 9s who would be super for this show so decided to go for it.”

Matilda is ideal as a high school production, said Austin.

“It’s for every age group. And the actors have really taken to it because it encourages them to be silly in a world where they’re pushed to make adult decisions all the time.

“It’s a wonderful escape with a powerful message.”

Matilda is the story of a little girl born into a family that doesn’t want her. But she is exceptionally bright and has a spirit that can’t be defeated.

“Her message is that it doesn’t matter your age, you have a voice,” said Austin. “It’s a musical with phenomenal songs like Revolting Children, Naughty, and When I Grow Up that move the plot along.

“And you can really get wrapped up in the story.”

About 30 are in the St. Pat’s cast, directed by Karoline Lobsinger. Another 14 are in the orchestra under the musical direction of Denise Chaulk.  Choreography is by Anaiya Willems.

St. Pat’s presents a musical every other year and generally stages a smaller, dramatic play on alternating years.



WHAT: St. Patrick’s High School’s production of Matilda The Musical

WHEN: Feb. 27 – 29, 7:30 p.m.

WHERE: Imperial Theatre

TICKETS: $15 students, $20 adults. Online at imperialtheatre.net or call the box office at 519-344-7469.

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