"Matilda"

Paige Russell and Duncan Robinson are among the students starring in Summerland Secondary School’s production of “Matilda.”

Drama students at Summerland Secondary School are busy putting the finishing touches on this year’s play, “Matilda the Musical,” which opens Feb. 19.

Director and drama teacher Heather Ayris said inspiration for “Matilda” came from several students who approached her with the idea.

“It also helped that I’ve been a fan of Roald Dahl for a very long time now,” she said in an email.

The 90-student show – which includes approximately 20 kindergarten students from Giants Head Elementary School – has been in the works since last June.

“I don’t think you have enough space in your paper to even begin to describe this process,” Ayris said when asked what goes into creating the play from start to finish.

“We hold auditions in June of every year, start rehearsals and building our set in September and end up on stage in February,” she explained. “We run rehearsals four days a week because we double-cast the show every year and (have) set building on Saturdays. These students are some of the hardest working and most passionate people I know.”

That hard work and passion regularly brings people from across the region to the school’s show.

“I am always humbled by the support,” said Ayris.

“You have to be a dedicated, tenacious and confident person, and if you don’t start out that way you certainly will gain some of these traits by the time you are finished,” Ayris said.

“Theatre has always been a place that believes in inclusion and acceptance. Everyone is welcome and supported in the theatre. It teaches respect, grit, independence and a belief that anything is possible if you work hard enough.”

“Matilda the Musical,” added Ayris, “is a story about an extraordinary girl who dares to take a stand and change her own destiny. It is inspired by the twisted genius of Roald Dahl and suitable for children of all ages.”

“Matilda” plays Feb. 19-22, and Feb. 26-29, 7 p.m., at Centre Stage Theatre in Summerland. Tickets cost $17 each and are available at the school office of The Beanery.