ParkTalk Blog - Setting the Stage for “Matilda”
Thursday, January 12, 2023
For the January 2023 musical production, "Matilda," the Magical Starlight Theatre crew designed and constructed the set, which consists of large, colorful alphabet blocks. The idea for the set was inspired by other productions and then further developed to fit the needs and vision of Magical Starlight Theatre and the stage at Naperville Central High School Auditorium.
Magical Starlight Theatre crew painting the alphabet blocks
One of the artistic directors, Chris Wych, worked with the production director, Anna Ahonen and the lighting designer, Bob Haddleton, to design the Matilda set.
View of the stage at Naperville Central High School auditorium
"Alphabet blocks to me have always been a great thing for kids to have fun with, besides building towers, they are great for learning the alphabet and words," explained Chris. "They are the stepping stones to reading books and being as smart as Matilda is in her story."
The artistic directors finalized the construction plans and ordered the materials in November. Construction began December 16, and because of the holidays and school schedule, they only had 9 days to get everything built and painted.
"The best part about building the set for Magical Starlight Theatre is how many of the cast members come and help with the construction and painting of the set," said Chris. "In addition, some families made it a point to come in and make a day of it. People with various skills have helped and I appreciate all the time they gave. Without them the set wouldn't be where it is today. Magical Starlight is not just theater for the community but also a community of actors and families coming together to build the show."
The crew began by cutting out the letters for the alphabet blocks
Block materials ready for assembly
"This year's set doesn't have a lot of moving parts but we are able to incorporate projections that will allow us to change parts of the background while still living in Matilda's world," Chris added. "Plus, the projection allows us to have some special effects."
A note to the audience from Chris: "One fun thing to note is that Matilda is always present in the set. It's her world that we are living in and so the reminder of that is there if you know where to look. If you don't see it, the ushers can point it out to you."
For the cast and crew, looking forward to opening night keeps them motivated and energized.
Hanging the letters
"My favorite thing is when the audience sees all the hard work that everyone has put into the production," said Chris. "Everyone in the company puts in an enormous number of hours with rehearsals, practicing at home, and planning all the elements. To have the audience see all that work is so exciting and I look forward to it every year. It keeps me going during the builds."
Platform in the foreground and white, painted blocks in the backgroundAn added element of excitement this year for Magical Starlight Theatre is that this is the first January musical since 2020.
"We are excited for the audience to come back to the auditorium and see Matilda," said Chris. "It's a great indoor activity during these cold January months."
Performance Times and Ticket Information
Tickets for "Matilda" may be purchased online at www.napervilleparks.org, by phone at 630-848-5000 or in person at the Alfred Rubin Riverwalk Community Center or Fort Hill Activity Center during regular business hours. Advanced tickets are $14 and may be purchased until 4:00 p.m. on the Friday of the performance weekend. After that time, tickets are $17 at the door.
Performances are Friday, Saturday and Sunday January 13-15 and 20-22. For performance times and additional details, visit www.napervilleparks.org/calendar/events/matilda-the-musical.