The Ojai Art Center Theater recently finished their first in-person production, with a full cast, of 2021. Many locals starved for live entertainment filled the seats. Knowing children must feel equally deprived of theatrical human interaction, Producer Lin Coleman and Director Gai Laing Jones collaborated to offer “Matilda Jr.” to the OACT youth. The play runs Wednesday, August 4 through Sunday, August 8 with nightly shows at 7 p.m., and matinees at 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
“Keeping the youth ages six to fourteen safe is our first priority,” said Jones. They began rehearsals in May outside in the courtyard of the Ojai Art Center, and moved to the inside stage last week. Jones hopes the kids involved learned life and performance skills, along with having fun.
Based on the Roald Dahl novel published in 1988, “Matilda Jr.” tells the story of an exceptional little girl with extraordinary abilities. The daughter of parents who plunk her in front of the TV to get her out of their way, Matilda immerses herself in a multitude of library books. At school Matilda must face a tyrannical headmistress, Miss Trunchbull. Matilda finds companionship in her well-intentioned yet fragile teacher, Miss Honey. Brave Matilda knows how to stand up against the adults in her world and discovers her own remarkable powers. Through her courageous acts she teaches Miss Honey and her classmates that even though life sometimes becomes hard, “nobody but me is gonna change my story.”
In 2012 School Library Journal ranked “Matilda” in the top thirty all-time children’s novels. If you or your kids have read the book, or seen the 1996 film directed by Danny Davito, this stage version will bring back found memories. Those who don’t know the story will find new revelations to inspire the whole family.