'Matilda' Rehearsals Underway

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'Matilda' Rehearsals Underway
Cast of Matilda Foote Summer Camp

By Katie De Vries
Drama Chair

We had a wonderful first week with the company of students that is joyfully bringing the story of Matilda to life! The production team wanted to share with you some of the highlights of our first week together. 


During rehearsals this week, the actors learned three large ensemble songs and many solos. Students learned about the vital role that music plays in creating the emotional content of the story. We are fortunate to have five musicians that will be playing live for the performances. Students also heard and learned about underscoring, musical notation, tempo, and phrasing. Singing voices were heard all over campus to the delight of many! 


To prepare for their costumes, students have been studying the 1988 time period. This week costume decisions were finalized and storyboarding was displayed in the costume shop for visitors to see. Students have played integral part in setting up the costume shop, choosing clothing from our current inventory, and sharing their drawings and imaginations for characters.


Students have assembled, nailed, and sanded 10 wood rehearsal cubes. They will be painted and used as the seats (building blocks) in the classroom of our set design. Not only are they being used for this summer's show, but they are a long-term investment into the program, as they are perfectly suited as furniture pieces when in rehearsals. Students also worked with faculty to measure and tape two rehearsal rooms and the theater based on the ground plan of the set design. This visual representation is so important in the rehearsal process. Students have also begun learning about sound design and the integration of puppets and props with the overall set.


Student performers have worked hard this week to develop their characters' nuances, emotional intentions, and physical postures and movements of their characters. We did rehearsals in small groups and with large ensemble scenes — we have 3/4 of Act 1 blocked out already! Students learned the importance of scene transitions and the specific details of how the script and score work together to transport us into the story! Along the way, the performers have danced, marched, and kicked their way through the week!


We were delighted to hear from Triffin Morris, a professional costume-draper/maker, and all-around creator of some of the most recognizable costumes on Broadway to this day. She shared her personal journey of her career, and spoke about how she used her specific skill set in the costume world. Her unique skill for body padding and extraordinary talent for creating characters through costumes is seen in the shows Wicked, Shrek, Matilda, and Santa from the Radio City Christmas Show! 

We also were so lucky to hear from our very own set designer, Portia Elmer, a Foote parent and amazing professional set designer. Portia brought in her scenic model of the Foote theater and shared the incredible miniatures of the set pieces, the audience set up, and the little people of characters from the story of Matilda. Students were engrossed in hearing about the process of scenic design, how Portia was inspired by shadow play for this specific story, and how she made choices that carefully integrated all of the components of putting on a live theatrical production. 


In the midst of all of the fun rehearsals, students also had sessions in improvisation classes and theater games which support character development on many levels. I have attached the memorization sheet that was handed out to students so that families can assist in learning lines, lyrics, and choreography.

We look forward to seeing everyone for the performances July 28–31 in the Robert D. Sandine Theater. (See performance schedule below.) Tickets are $15. For more information or for reservations, call 203-777-3464. 

  • Performance 1: Thursday, July 28, 7 p.m.
  • Performance 2: Friday, July 29, 7 p.m.
  • Performance 4: Saturday, July 30, 1 p.m.
  • Performance 5: Saturday, July 30, 7 p.m.
  • Performance 6: Sunday, July 31, 1 p.m.
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