Paramount Players to open curtain on Matilda


The Paramount Players are ready to show off some magic with their upcoming Matilda The Musical production in Ashland, Kentucky this week only.

According to Musical Theatre International (MTI), which owns the rights to the show, “inspired by the twisted genius of Roald Dahl, the Tony Award-winning Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical is the captivating masterpiece from the Royal Shakespeare Company that revels in the anarchy of childhood, the power of imagination and the inspiring story of a girl who dreams of a better life. With book by Dennis Kelly and original songs by Tim Minchin, Matilda has won 47 international awards and continues to thrill sold-out audiences of all ages around the world.

“Matilda is a little girl with astonishing wit, intelligence and psychokinetic powers. She’s unloved by her cruel parents but impresses her schoolteacher, the highly loveable Miss Honey. Over the course of her first term at school, Matilda and Miss Honey have a profound effect on each other’s lives, as Miss Honey begins not only to recognize but also appreciate Matilda’s extraordinary personality. Matilda’s school life isn’t completely smooth sailing, however – the school’s mean headmistress, Miss Trunchbull, hates children and just loves thinking up new punishments for those who don’t abide by her rules. But Matilda has courage and cleverness in equal amounts and could be the school pupils’ saving grace!”

MTI wraps up by saying that Matilda the Musical is “packed with high-energy dance numbers, catchy songs and an unforgettable star turn for a young actress, Matilda is a joyous girl power romp. Children and adults alike will be thrilled and delighted by the story of the special little girl with an extraordinary imagination.”

The Paramount Players, Ashland’s hailed community theatre operating out of the Paramount Arts Center, is composed of regional actors and talent that produces top-notch productions. They’ve tackled some major titles and are now moving onto the hit musical set to open this week.

Artistic Director Rick Payne has been performing for a dozen years and has been artistic director of the Paramount Players for 18 months. He claims the cast of Matilda blows him away and he is excited to showcase their talent on their stage.

“We had been looking at Matilda for a few years now and we were basically waiting for the right feel and cast. You know, when you choose a show, you have to know you have certain people that will be good for that production. We knew we had the right people right now and leaped. Actually, we had no idea, at the time, that the Netflix movie was going to be released. It worked out to be really good timing.”

Despite planning shows around potential talent, the organization doesn’t pre-cast their shows, so anyone is welcome to audition. In fact, Payne said the titular character was chosen from a batch of new auditions, who hadn’t been a Paramount Player prior to this show.

“We walked in, and she just blew us away,” Payne said. “She is great. It’s funny, because she is so little, but she is a freshman in college. You would never think, by looking at her, that she goes to Marshall, but she is amazing.”

Locals Sarah Brehm and Nevaeh Takahashi are ready to take the stage in the production. Brehm is a Paramount veteran with experience of performing all over the region.

“I feel Matilda is an amazing story. It’s a classic story that never ages,” Brehm said. “My niece adores everything Matilda and I’m so honored to be a part of this incredible cast and bring the story of a little girl who sees the right and wrong of the world and does something to try and make her world a better place!”

Payne loves what he does and says there is merit in performing arts of all sizes, for both performers and audience members.

“Community theatre brings art and culture to a space that needs it. For the performers, it brings friendships and a sense of togetherness that brings people who love to do a thing in the same room together that they may not get somewhere else. We always say that the Paramount Players is a big family and everyone feels at home in a safe space. I think it is a wonderful thing about being involved in community theatre.”

While quality art can be expensive, companies like the Paramount Players make theatre affordable to everyone. It also enhances their lives, according to Payne. In addition to that, it gives performers a space to gather.

“I think the audience will get a bit of everything. It is a lot of fun. There’s a lot of fun numbers with choreography. There’s a lot of singing. There are moments to make you cry and moments to make you laugh. There is a lot to unpack here,” Payne explained. “The show is a very girl powered show and I think there is a lot of fun in that.”

Matilda The Musical will be held Friday, March 24 and Saturday, March 25 at the Paramount Arts Center, 1300 Winchester Avenue. Admission will be sold at the door and online at The doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the curtains open at 7:30 p.m. Admission ranges from $15-$25

Until then, the Paramount Players continue rehearsals.

“It is going great, lots of rehearsals,” Payne said. “I really have to give it to all of the people who come together to put it together, because it is a lot of work, but it is going great.”

Reach Joseph Pratt at (740) 353-3101, by email at [email protected], © 2023 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved

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