The Backstage Buzz: Matilda The Musical

Special Report by Journalist Luscinda Dickey

It is 30 minutes to show time for the Little Theatre of Winston Salem’s production of Matilda The Musical. The audience is taking their seats and buzzing with anticipation. Soon the lights will go down and the actors and actresses will transport the audience to a brilliant world of color, fun, and life. Right now all the audience can see is the set clad stage ready for the performance to begin. Little do they know what has happened behind the stage…

Today, I am not performing. Instead I am a dresser working backstage to make sure that the costumes and wigs of Matilda flow seamlessly. My mother and I arrive at 6:00pm—an hour and a half before the show starts. The actors and actresses are here too. At the moment, they are just regular people like you and me.

Come with me to take a sneak peak into the girls dressing room. Ria Matheson (Miss. Honey) is putting her hair up in pin curls for her wig; Alora Engel (Matilda) is having her hair styled to create the look of the title role; Genevieve Amigone (Amanda), Page Morphis (Lavender), and the other young ladies are changing from street clothes to their whimsical costumes for the top of the show; and the wonderful ensemble is hard at work with curling irons and lipstick as they prepare for the musical’s many numbers.

While I am presetting costumes for our first quick changes, step across the hall with Hayley Hansen (Mrs. Wormwood) and Ria to the men’s dressing room and wig department. There my mom will put on their wigs. Both ladies have a skin tone wig cap covering their pin curled hair. Here is a quick glance of what my mom does next: 1) she pulls the wigs over their heads, 2) she U-Pins the wigs into their wig caps, 3) she Bobby Pins the wigs to make sure they are secured, and finally 4) she does a tightness check. In Matilda, a show of cartwheels and jumps, it is very important that the wigs do not come off.

It is now 15 minutes to places. My mom and I walk up the long hallway to the prop room where we do all our quick changes. As we do, we pass by the boys dressing room where Director and Choreographer, Katie Jo Icenhower, is giving notes and words of encouragement to Nick Kelly (Bruce) and Alex Nunley (Michael Wormwood).

5 minutes to places! From Kevin Hampton (Stage Manager) to Matthew Cravey (Mr. Wormwood), who is carefully checking his props, there is a wave of excitement running through the entire cast and crew.

Places have been called. Over the last hour and a half great change has taken place. You can see as the cast parades by our table on the way to the wings of the stage, that they are no longer themselves but the characters they portray. Let’s take Seph Schonekas (Miss. Trunchbull) for example. Seph’s personality has changed immensely. He is no longer his positive self. He now wears not only the clothes of but the cruel essence of Miss. Trunchbull. You can see it in the way he walks and hear it in his voice. Hayley is another great example. She is now oozing Mrs. Wormwood from her glitzy costume jewelry to her oh-so-high-heeled character shoes. When she gets on stage, her character will explode.

A hush of magic falls over the audience as the house lights go down and the opening number begins.

Show Reviews

A-W-E-S-O-M-E Spells KLT’s production of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”

Special Report by Journalist Luscinda Dickey

Follow the hottest spellers, in musical theatre, on their quest for greatness. And, who will win? It might not be who you expect! To discover the answer, may I suggest a trip to Kernersville where the Kernersville Little Theatre (KLT) presents “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” artistic directed and music directed by Margaret “Maggie” B. Gallagher.

This all adult cast included many fun characters. I enjoyed how each had a different personality and flare. Leaf Coneybear (Jake Messina) was my favorite speller. To see an adult actor become a happy-go-lucky kid with a great sense of humor was very impressive. Plus Leaf was homeschool just like me! Logainne “Schwartzy” Schwartzandgrubenierre (Grace DiMaio) was another top speller for me. Not only did Logainne hold a lisp the entire show but she also was able to embodied a kid perfectly. And I don’t want to forget William Barfee (Michael Mickiewicz) a very nerdy speller with a kid like, resounding “I know” who “plans to grow up to be handsome.” I also really enjoyed the improv skills of Vice Principal Douglas Panch (James Crowe) and Rona Lisa Peretti (Steffanie Vaughan) as they interacted with four volunteer spellers picked from the audience.

To break up the dramatic and suspenseful spelling there were beautifully sung musical numbers accompanied by live musicians and entertaining dances. You could tell that each element had be carefully orchestrated by Maggie Gallagher.

“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” is held in Fitzpatrick Auditorium at the Kernersville Elementary School. The “school smell” provided by the venue and the lack of air conditioning in the auditorium combined with the simple staging created the complete picture. I truly felt like I was attending a spelling bee!

KTL should be very proud to be bringing this production to the Triad.

Show Reviews

You’ll never forget this performance!

Special Report by Journalist Luscinda Dickey

Erinn Dearth and Dan Beckmann—two shimmering, glowing stars in the theatre firmament—premiered Duet: A Fundraiser to Benefit Spring Theatre.

Duet was a hoot! Held on August 20 at the Reynolds Place Theatre in Winston-Salem, it was made up of musical theatre duets ranging from stirring love songs to hilarious comedic pieces. Included in the evenings program were songs from approximately 20 musicals. Not to give everything away, but some of my favorite renditions came from Ordinary Days, Easter Parade, Young Frankenstein, and Footloose. Despite slight glitches and delays with the sound system and projections, the show was perfect. Even when a song failed to come on at the right time, Dan and Erinn jumped into some oh-so-funny improv—a highlight from my experience. Topping of the night, Spring Theatre announced their 2020 season.

And guess what? The fun did not end last night: there is one more show this evening. Maybe you are a theatre person like me; maybe you are someone who wants to get involved with Spring Theatre; or maybe you are just looking for something spectacular to do on an empty Wednesday night—Duet has something for everyone. I definitely suggest this wonderful performance to you!


Disney’s Frozen Jr. Inspires

Special Report by Journalist Luscinda Dickey

“Let it go!” sings Elsa, Ava Belle Jones, as snowflakes dance around her. “Let it go!!!” sing two little girls sitting one row from the back of the house. The moment could have thawed the coldest heart. Disney’s Frozen Jr., presented by The Little Theatre of Winston Salem, was full of such moments.

To see a group of actors retelling one of my favorite movies in musical form was delightful! There were the same characters and the same songs (plus some new ones), and of course, there was the same story. Though, being a condensed version of the full Broadway production, I found the flow a little choppy.

The set was limited due to the small venue, but I liked the way it was used. It was made of boxes that could stack and twist. Meaning that the set could be reconfigured using the same pieces for each and every scene leaving the stage with a different look.

All in all, some of my favorite elements included the perfectly matched costumes by Tara Raczenski and the toe tapping energy filled dance of “Hygge.” Plus, who could have resisted the warm hugs of Olaf, Caroline Mendenhall.

I believe that performances like Disney’s Frozen Jr. are necessary. Not only do they provide young actors and actresses like me with a wonderful chance to perform, but they also inspire the next generation of performers and theatre goers after us.

Thank you The Little Theatre for inspiring others.

Show Reviews

Magic Graces the Stage with Spring Theatre’s Production of Disney’s The Lion King Jr.

Special Report by Journalist Luscinda Dickey

The moment the lights went up on the stage of Disney’s The Lion King Jr., the audience was transported to the colorful world of the African Savanna. The actors were just kids like me, but I laughed at the antics of Timon, Olivia Trauth, and Pumbaa, Emily G Cox; I felt like crying at the death of Mufasa, Sam Stowe; and I could sense the deep emotions of Simba, Kyle Brady.

The dancing, choreographed by Jordan Medley and Erinn Dearth, was awesome! From the sweeping waltz of “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” to the rousing tap of “Hakuna Matata,” the audience was on its toes waiting for what was going to happen next!

There was so much to feast your eyes on! The lighting, designed by Dan Beckmann, set the stage for each scene. The three great boulders of Pride Rock moved around captivating you with ever the changing vista.

In total Disney’s The Lion King Jr. was an evening of fun, laughter, and pure enjoyment. Spring Theatre has truly breathed new breath into the circle of life.