SUNDRE — The cast and crew of B.S. Productions’ Matilda the Musical performed for almost 1,000 people throughout the span of six sold-out shows.
“We’re really overjoyed with the way things have gone,” Jamie Syer, the play’s musical director, said last week.
“It’s really been a great response from the community,” said Syer, later adding people were still inquiring about the possibility of getting tickets for the last performances.
All six performances, which were spread out over the last two weekends at the Sundre Arts Centre, sold out a couple of weeks before the first show, he said, adding that amounted to nearly 1,000 people.
“It’s really exciting to see the place that full,” he said.
Auditions for the musical began last spring, and by June, the cast had been selected. By the time summer was over, most of the kids already had their songs committed to memory, he said, adding the focus then shifted to choreography.
Initially getting started with weekly rehearsals, efforts were earnestly ramped up closer to showtime, he said.
“It became a pretty intense schedule.”
The arts centre provided the perfect venue, but the B.S. Productions crew’s imagination and creativity made all of the costume and stage elements to pull off the “big and complicated show,” he said.
“Everything that happened on stage was designed by us,” he said, praising set designer Bill Lough as well as Brian Bailey’s skill at carpentry.
“We spent about nine months of our lives working on this and it’s been worth it. It’s been a fabulous journey.”
B.S. Productions has a number of performances already under its belt, but this was the first to involve so many young actors. Many of them had never before been on stage nor had any prior singing or acting experience, he said.
“The kids were fabulous,” he said, describing seeing them develop over the course of rehearsals and performances as a joy.
“I can’t imagine a more energetic and enthusiastic cast of kids.”
Some of the adults also did not have much prior experience but nevertheless shone, he said, adding plenty of talented people were on the stage.
“Everybody has just given it everything they’ve got.”
There was also a big effort behind the scenes, as a major aspect of the project was live music performed by a five-member band, he said.
The score was “done live, just as a Broadway production would be. There was nothing recorded, nothing canned.”
B.S. Productions, a non-profit club started by Syer and Bailey, is devoted to musicals, and they decided to pursue Matilda the Musical after learning the licensing became available about a year ago.
“We hadn’t done a show with so many kids before.”
Although initially uncertain they’d be able to cast the musical, he said it quickly became apparent following the first auditions that there would be enough young actors to fill all of the roles. The cast was 26 members strong, about half of whom were youths.
Additionally, the story of Matilda, originally a book by Roald Dahl, is “fun and crazy, a little weird and a little edgy,” he said.
But it also conveys a great message about kids realizing they have some level of control and responsibility for what happens in their lives, he said.
“It’s a good story; it has something to say.”