Four Orinda Singers Perform in Professional Production of Matilda

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(Lily Black, Photographer)
Veteran Lamorinda Idol performers and Orinda residents (L-R) Sofia Rose (Nigel), Keenan Moran (Eric), Miranda Klein (Matilda) and Henry Vanhouten (Michael) appear in Berkeley Playhouse’s production of Matilda the Musical, running through Dec. 23 at the Julie Morgan Center in Berkeley. Not pictured is Lamorinda Idol performer Camden Greathouse from Danville.

    Musicals featuring a plethora of young performers are often light-hearted affairs, but that isn’t the case with Matilda the Musical. Full of substance, as well as beautiful music and fun dance numbers, Matilda takes on bad parenting and bullying.
    Based on Roald Dahl’s 1988 novel, the musical features Lamorinda Idol singers Miranda Klein, Keenan Moran, Sofia Rose and Henry Vanhouten. It currently plays through Dec. 23 at Berkeley Playhouse, 2640 College Ave., Berkeley.
    Matilda tells the story of a young English girl mistreated by her parents and bullied by her school’s headmistress, Miss Trunchbull. The highly intelligent Matilda, however, finds support from her teacher, Miss Honey. Her psychokinetic powers also come in handy.
    “I definitely don’t have parents like Matilda – just the opposite,” said Klein, an Orinda resident and fifth grade student at Head Royce School, who plays Matilda. “Unfortunately, I don’t have her psychokinetic powers, but I do love playing this character. It’s hard work, and the songs hit some pretty high notes, but I’m surrounded by such amazing actors. I just love it so much.”
    The show began performances Nov. 4, following an intensive rehearsal schedule. Fortunately, Berkeley Playhouse divided the younger performers into two casts – Miracle and Acrobat.
    “The Miracle Cast is named after the first song in the show. It’s such a fun number about how the parents think all of us kids are miracles, but we know we’re really mischievous,” said Rose, a sophomore at Campolindo High School who plays Nigel, one of Matilda’s classmates.
    Rose noted both casts rehearsed together, with one cast writing down blocking and choreography, while the other cast performed before switching.
    “I love playing Nigel. He’s kind of crazy and fun,” Rose said.
    Vanhouten, a junior at Campolindo, has become a master at juggling as he manages a very heavy homework load, singing lessons, his job at Starbucks and performances. He plays Matilda’s older brother Michael.
    “It’s definitely been a rough year, and I’m really glad the show is double cast so I have some down time,” said Vanhouten, who plays Crutchy in Newsies at Campolindo right after Matilda closes.
    Vanhouten says his character isn’t very smart, yet his parents constantly tell him he is.
    “My challenge is to show he’s not bright, but still make him fun. He doesn’t have a lot of lines, but he’s on stage a lot, so I’ve created various mannerisms for him,” Vanhouten said. “It’s interesting playing a character who is constantly praised and, basically, gets whatever he wants. But his happiness is at the cost of Matilda and their relationship.”
    According to Vanhouten, the dark side of Matilda is one element that makes it an amazing show.
    “I think it’s very relevant and applies to many kids my age and all the stuff we deal with,” said Vanhouten. “I honestly think it’s helpful to see extreme scenarios where issues such as bullying and bad parenting apply, because it’s kind of a warning.”
    Playing Eric, another of Matilda’s classmates, is St. Perpetua fifth-grader Keenan Moran.
    “This is a really big story to tell. From parents not knowing what their children are really like, to a family running away from Russians. It’s crazy, and [Miss] Trunchbull is pretty strange as well,” said Moran. “It’s not an everyday school play, and some bad parts make me feel sad, but there’s no time to dwell on that because then I’m doing a quick costume change for the next number. My favorite song is Bruce. The choreography is such fun and involves eating a big chocolate cake!”
    To catch these Lamorinda Idol singers in Matilda, call 510.845.8542 or visit www.berkeleyplayhouse.org.

Sally Hogarty can be reached at sally@theorindanews.com.

(Ben Krantz, Photographer)
Gregory Lynch (Miss Trunchbull) and Orinda resident Miranda Klein (Matilda) perform in Berkeley Playhouse’s production of Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical, directed by Dane Paul Andres. Performing at the Julia Morgan Theater through Dec. 23.

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