Tony Award-winning show Matilda the Musical will play Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre (1308 5th Avenue Seattle, WA 98101) for the first time from August 18 through September 6, 2015. Roald Dahl’s beloved classic spans two hours and thirty minutes with a host bevy of jaunts and opportunities to view the world in a truly unique way.
The tour ensemble includes Cal Alexander, Kayla Amistad, Cameron Burke, Brittany Conigatti, Michael Fatica, Wesley Faucher, John Michael Fiumara, Camden Gonzales, Shonica Gooden, Evan Gray, Cassidy Hagel, Meliki Hurd, Michael Jablonski, Luke Kolbe Mannikus, Stephanie Martignetti, Megan McGuff, Ora Jones, Justin Packard, Serena Quadrato, Aristotle Rock, Jaquez Andre Sims, Ian Michael Stuart, Danny Tieger, Kaci Walfall, Natalie Wisdom, and Darius Wright.
Matilda the Musical stars three girls in the title role: Gabby Gutierrez, Mia Sinclair Jenness and Mabel Tyler. The principal cast also features (alphabetically): Jennifer Blood (Miss Honey), Quinn Mattfeld (Mr. Wormwood), Bryce Ryness (Miss Trunchbull), and Cassie Silva (Mrs. Wormwood).
Blood plays a lighthearted teacher named Miss Honey.
“Miss Honey is a kind teacher who would like to help Matilda, but because of circumstances in her past and present is frequently thwarted in doing so,” she explained.
She described her new role as a departure from others she’s played.
“I have been lucky in my career to have gotten to play a wide variety of ‘types.’ I have played a number of roles, though, that I would put in the same category as Miss Honey – Laura in Glass Menagerie, Annelle in Steel Magnolias, Clara in Light in the Piazza – but perhaps incorrectly,” she said. “Miss Honey is childlike, but only in her inability to move on from her childhood. She’s much more angry than any of those characters I mentioned.”
Blood said she was most excited about working with the kids in the cast of Matilda the Musical.
“It really is amazing how hard they work, how focused they are and how good they are. It makes me tear up all the time,” she said.
There’s a lesson in Matilda the Musical that Blood says everyone can relate to regardless of age.
“There is a line in the song ‘Naughty’ [that says] ‘Nobody but me is gonna change my story.’ It makes me think about our perceived limits, or the stories we tell ourselves about what we can and cannot do – and how they really are just stories; that we are the authors of our lives,” she said.
When asked what lessons she could teach a real-life Matilda, Blood turns the tables.
“I think we would all be better off taking advice from Matilda – that you can change your situation, that even though you are a child you have a voice and can use it for what’s right,” she said. “I would tell her to keep it up! And maybe I would tell Matilda, who doesn’t fit in with her family, that she will find her people out in the world. To hang in there; people who will love and ‘get’ you are out there.”
How does Matilda the Musical differ from the book or movie starring Mara Wilson?
“I think this musical is a wonderful adaptation of the book. It is dark, like the book, but it also has added some things to help theatricalize the story,” she said. “The lyrics to the songs are so, so clever and fun. They are for adults as well as children.”
Blood is new to the touring industry and is learning the ropes as she goes.
“I am learning that it is important to have a few things – a mug, a pillow…my Nespresso machine – to make me feel at home with all the moving around,” she said. “I also travel a very old, beat up looking baby doll [named Baby J], which I keep in my dressing room to remind me not to take anything too seriously.”
Touring means the same show numerous times over the course of months, sometimes years. Blood uses tried and true tactics to keep things from becoming stale.
“Having different children on in different roles definitely helps to keep things fresh,” she said. “Other than that, just trying to stay in the moment, new thoughts are still coming to me.”
What’s next for Blood post-Matilda the Musical?
“Who can say! Working on new plays and musicals is really my favorite thing to do, so I imagine I will get back to New York and do some of that,” she said.
For now, though, she’s in Seattle – a city she had never encountered before this Matilda the Musical.
“I am a coffee lover, so I cannot wait to check out the coffee shops,” she said. “Also, I have always wanted to visit the first Starbucks, which I hope is not the equivalent of saying, ‘I can’t wait to go to New York City and visit the Applebee’s on 42nd street.’”
Tickets for Matilda the Musical start at $35 and are available online at 5thavenue.org, by phone at 206-625-1900 or at the Box Office.