Friends since the second grade, Hailey Watts and Emmy Finnerud both decided to audition together for a role in the Lamp-Lite Theatre summer production, “Matilda: The Musical.” Now they get to share the spotlight.
A few days after auditions, the girls happened to be together when their moms told them the news: Both had landed the lead role of Matilda, a young girl with remarkable abilities born into a less-than-remarkable, unloving family.
Having two actors alternate nights for a young main character is not uncommon, said Lamp-Lite founder and director Sarah McMullan, who used the same strategy when casting Dorothy in a production of “The Wizard of Oz.”
The title character is onstage for most of the show, and learning the amount of lines required wasn’t easy, said Emmy, 10, and Hailey, 11.
Both credit their moms for helping with the memorization.
“I just kept working with them over and over,” Hailey said.
“My mom and I would go through all the scenes,” she said. “It gets easier.”
Both now students at Mike Moses Middle School, neither of the Matildas has aspirations to be in theater professionally. Emmy says she is still undecided about her future career, while Hailey is firm on becoming a veterinarian.
The 40-plus-member cast of “Matilda” is highlighted by Lamp-Lite veteran Tim Hogle as the show’s villain, an evil schoolmaster known as Miss Trunchbull.
“That’s the way it’s done on Broadway — a man plays the role,” McMullan says.
Choreographed by Pat Harris with Charisse Gregory as music director, “Matilda: The Musical” opens tonight and runs two weekends at the theater. As with previous summer musicals, all seats are reserved and advance reservations are recommended. Tickets can be purchased, and season pass holders can pick up seating assignments at three locations: the downtown Bright Visitor’s Center, Glass Castles or Kline’s Wrap-It-Up.