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The City Journals

Cottonwood High theater department announces season

Sep 05, 2019 11:35AM ● By Julie Slama

Senior Lily Hilden will play Matilda Wormwood in Cottonwood High’s upcoming production of “Matilda.” (Abbie Tuckness/Cottonwood High School)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Cottonwood High School students will learn how to educate, inspire and entertain theater patrons, stretching their talents from a William Shakespeare play to a modern-day fairytale.

This fall, students will showcase “Matilda,” based on the popular children’s book of the same title by author Roald Dahl. 

The show will be at 7 p.m., Nov. 21–23 and again, Nov. 25, with a noon matinee on Nov. 23. Ticket prices are $8 online (schools.graniteschools.org/cottonwoodhigh) or in advance in person or $9 at the door, 5715 S. 1300 East.

Students began rehearsing during the summer. Many Cottonwood High students as well as the director Adam Wilkins begin the school year coming off taking part in the performance of the world premiere “The Post Office,” written by Melissa Leilani Larson.

Presented by the United Nations Association of Utah, the Gandhi Alliance for Peace, Plan-B Theatre and Granite School District, the play is an inspirational story of a child suffering from a mysterious illness yet remaining hopeful for a better future. Proceeds from the late August show held at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center were earmarked for refugee education as part of the United Nations Association’s Adopt-a-Future.

“It’s been an amazing experience for our kids to be involved in it, to shadow professionals, to be a part of a performance for 30,000 people from across the world who work with the UN,” said Wilkins, who as Utah Theatre Association president, was asked to direct the play. “It’s just an awesome opportunity.”

Before “Matilda,” students also plan to take part in their annual “Haunted Hallway” at 6 p.m., Oct. 30, where they create spooky scenes for patrons to walk through and set the scare factor at the level of the audience. Money collected will go toward the school’s annual winter charity; last year’s proceeds helped the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

“Matilda” will feature senior Lily Hilden as Matilda Wormwood; junior Andrew Pankey as Agatha Trunchbull; senior Elaia Echeverria as Jennifer Honey; junior Josh Morton as Mr. Wormwood; senior Cora Finlinson as Mrs. Wormwood; junior Hunter Oliphant as Bruce; sophomore Ivy Dunbar as Lavender; junior Zev Katz as the escapologist and doctor; junior Melody Nelson as the acrobat and scary big kid; junior Jaxon Smith as Rondolpho and Dad 4; and sophomore Abbie Tuckness as Mrs. Phelps.

“I love ‘Matilda’ and the attitude it takes that learning is good, fun and power,” Wilkins said. “Matilda shows the benefits from learning. It’s a modern-day fairytale and one that educates, inspires and entertains us.”

After “Matilda,” Cottonwood students will take part in their old-fashioned melodrama and Broadway Revue before jumping to New Orleans square and the bayou for a setting of William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer’s Night Dream.”

“The show lends magic, mystery and beauty in nature, and again asks questions leading to inspiring, educating and entertaining,” Wilkins said about the show they will put on in March. “This is a show we’ve wanted to do so long. It has intrigue, comedy, drama, love.”

The theme of magic continues in their spring production of “Mamma Mia,” where Wilkins said it ties in the magic of family and song.

“When I first saw ‘Mamma Mia’ and it was a big success, I thought I wouldn’t touch it with a 100-foot pole. It’s hokey, it’s cheesy and it’s something I wouldn’t want to do. Yet, the audience knows the songs and people walk out, all giddy and excited. And I have to admit, I do now, too. It’s just compelling; it has great characters, it’s a fun love story between a girl and her finance and her family, and it has great music that everyone knows,” he said.

Students plan to compete in regional competition in March, where they usually place in the top three schools and advance to state in April. Last year, they were in the top 10 at state.

 The season ends with student-directed one-act plays in May. 

Sprinkled throughout the season will be improvisation shows.

“The kids love the art of improv, the acting, the reacting to the audience; it’s a great experience,” Wilkins said. “I’m excited about this year’s theater season.”