De Pere High School students fill iconic shoes in Roald Dahl’s ‘Matilda’

High School Theater
FRIDAY 11/19/2021 3:21 p.m.

DE PERE, Wis. (WFRV) – On stage for a limited time, De Pere High School students are bringing this magical movie to life – adding a little spice of their own to the iconic roles in Roald Dahl’s Matilda.

Local 5 was able to interview four cast members before audiences started filing in for opening night Thursday. Those spectators are actually one of the biggest causes for the students’ excitement.

Aria Kiedinger and Emma Hujet

“I feel like we really missed out not having a live audience last year. It’s one of the biggest- one of my favorite parts of putting on a production. I’m excited to have that back,” explained Emma Hujet, who is performing as Matilda Wormwood for her senior year.

“I haven’t been in front of an audience in so long, so I think I’m just excited to hear an applause,” said Lucy Kurowski, a senior who is playing Zinnia Wormwood. “A genuine one.”

As for their reasons for auditioning? Those are different depending on which cast member you ask.

Lucy Kurowski and Jake Barbeau

“I knew nothing about Matilda going into this. I just thought there was a dad character and I thought ‘Aw, that’s pretty cool. I might as well try out for him,'” explained Jake Barbeau, a senior performing the role of Harry Wormwood. “And I got him so I was like, ‘Aw, that’s pretty awesome,’ because I know his one song is my favorite song in the entire show.”

For high school junior Aria Kiedinger, who gets to act as Miss Trunchbull, the role was already familiar. “I grew up watching the movie as a kid so I thought it would just be really cool to be a part of this musical, just because I grew up with it and everything.”

“It’s definitely hard to fill the shoes but I think we did a really good job and I’m really excited to portray them,” said Kurowski. “It’s more of a, like, ‘you better come because Danny DeVito is right here.'”

“I don’t know if anyone can replace Danny DeVito from the movie, but I’m trying my best,” added Barbeau.

And it wouldn’t be theater without a few challenges.

“Personally, I think one of my biggest struggles was trying to play a little kid. As simple as it sounds, I had to take a lot of time to really figure out Matilda’s character in order to portray her in the way that I wanted. It was difficult,” Hujet added. “It was harder than I wanted it to be.”

Barbeau also had some difficulty leaning into his character. “One of my biggest challenges is probably being a mean character – because I’m usually a nicer character in every show I’ve been in,” explained Barbeau. “But trying to be a dad being mean to a daughter is kind of hard for me.”

On the other hand, Kiedinger and Kurowski say the pandemic has also thrown a wrench into the show when students get quarantined due to COVID-19.

“Originally my dance partner in my featured song got COVID so he is not going to be here on opening night. I had to re-teach the choreography, vocals, blocking, and lines and everything to a different person within a week,” said Kurowski.

Solving their problems with a little elbow grease like the main character in the show, students made sure to still have a little fun during rehearsals.

“Every day when we do mic checks I always vlog how my day went as my mic check,” explained Hujet.

And Kiedinger says having a sibling in the show made rehearsals a little more interesting. “I have a sister in the show as well and I get to sit on her during one of my songs so I think that’s pretty fun.”

“I like the fact that [the show] is geared more towards families – and so it helps us draw in some more families in our audience. I personally have a lot of family that’s younger in age so I like that they would be able to come and be able to see out show and they would enjoy it,” added Hujet.

De Pere High School is also part of the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center Stage program this year, which provides helpful critiques on performances. Kiedinger, Barbeau, and Kurowski say feedback allows them to grow their skills and shows them what they can improve on next.

“I personally have gotten to partake in a lot of their workshops that they offer for both the technical side of theater as well as the performing side. And learn from some really talented individuals and take that learning and take it back here and teach the rest of my cast about it,” added Hujet. “And so it’s allowed us to grow both as individual performers and a group, as a whole. And it also gives us a chance to showcase our abilities within the Center Stage awards, which I think is really cool.”

De Pere High School takes the stage presenting Roald Dahl’s ‘Matilda’

TUESDAY 11/9/2021 / 2:48 p.m.

DE PERE, Wis. (WFRV) – Roald Dahl. One of the best-known children’s authors that have had many of his books turned into movies and musicals, including the classic, Matilda.

De Pere High School

De Pere High School and Redbird Productions is presenting Matilda, a story about a young girl blessed with intellect, humor and magical telekinetic abilities. After the COVID-19 pandemic, the cast and crew say that they are excited to be back LIVE in the auditorium. The cast’s favorite song is “Revolting Children” and there are 85 kids involved, between the cast and crew.

You can catch the show at De Pere High School at 1700 Chicago Street in De Pere, on the following days:

  • November 18-20 at 7:00 p.m.

You can purchase tickets online or at the door. Tickets are $5 for students and $8 for adults. Masking is optional.

This school year, the Fox Cities PAC and WFRV Local 5 are teaming up to showcase over 20 local high school musical productions through the Center Stage program. The program was launched in 2016 and has been a successful piece of education in the community.

You can watch the promotional video here.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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