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STAR Repertory Theatre goes the whole hog with ‘Matilda’

ESCONDIDO – STAR Repertory Theatre is bringing the Broadway adaptation of beloved Roald Dahl children’s novel “Matilda” to the Lyceum Theatre in San Diego for a Nov. 30 to Dec. 8 run.

Dahl’s book was already famous for having been adapted to film in 1996 — the movie starred Mara Wilson and its own director, Danny DeVito. In terms of story, when the book-loving Matilda is confronted by obstacles — namely her parents and a cruel school headmistress — she uses her telekinetic powers to her advantage.

STAR Repertory is playing the production at the Lyceum instead of their usual theater in Escondido because the Lyceum has 400 more seats, for a total of 500. “Once a year, we do shows at the Lyceum,” said STAR Rep’s marketing and PR agent, Doug Friedman. “This year, it’s ‘Matilda.’” He says that STAR will add its own small, nuanced touches on Road Dahl’s story in the production.

“The kids and the adults in this cast will blow you away,” Musical Director Benjamin Goniea said. “Everything clicked from the very first sing-through and got even better along the way.” Goniea will conduct an accompanying live orchestra.

“This is a show that has it all,” show director Scott Kolod said. “A storyline every child will identify with, a cast of seasoned actors and amazingly talented kids, plus music and dancing that will knock your socks off.” Friedman noted that Kolod’s take on the story mostly adheres to the Broadway play itself, as opposed to the film.

Besides being the San Diego premiere of this musical, the production is also unique in regard to its casting: while the same approximately 50 people act in all the shows, they rotate to create three separate unique casts. Friedman explained that this was done in order to provide cast members with more opportunities to play leading roles.

“In one of the three casts, we have, actually, a woman who’s one of the leads with her daughter … with a son in the show, and her father in the show. So … you got three generations in the cast.

“So that’s very exciting and unusual; I don’t think you see that in a lot of community theater.” The production rotates the cast over the course of its nine performances that are stretched out across two weekends.

Friedman compared bringing together these casts to assembling a jigsaw puzzle. “You’ve got so many talented people and putting them all together into three solid casts is the most challenging, but ultimately can be the most rewarding, because someone can literally come and see the show three different times and get a new, fresh experience from each show. They’ll see things they wouldn’t necessarily see from the night before.”

“There’s been an excitement with this show since auditions,” Kevin “Blax” Burroughs, the show’s choreographer, said. “This has been one of the most highly anticipated shows STAR Rep has produced.”

Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased at lyceumevents.org for $29. A limited number of discount tickets are available on Goldstar.com.