LOGAN — The old theater adage "the show must go on" will ring true for a group of youths who will finally perform a show they were ready to wow audiences with a year ago when the COVID-19 pandemic eclipsed their plans.
In the winter of 2020, dozens of children, teens and adults were rehearsing for "Matilda the Musical" when their hard work was put on pause just three weeks before they were ready to perform in the Ellen Eccles Theatre.
Whitney Metz, the president of Cache Theatre Company and director of "Matilda," said it was "pretty dang devastating" to have to cancel the show and let the kids know it would be postponed.
"I think that us as adults, we understand, but for them it almost felt like we were failing them, even though it was something that was completely out of our control," Metz said.
The role of Matilda is double-cast and is played by 12-year-old Ella Kelstrom and 13-year-old Tessa Maughan.
Tessa said she was really sad when the show was canceled because she was so excited to be playing a leading role, but she's really happy to be able to have a second chance.
"I was so happy. My mind was blown because I thought that we were just going to not do it. But when we were told that we were going to be able to do it, it was just amazing," she said.
When they originally postponed the show, they hoped to perform it by the summertime. But the summer of 2020 didn't prove safe enough for large audiences and a large cast to gather together. By December, they made plans to perform the show in April of 2021, with hopes that circumstances would allow them to finally make it happen.
I think that you try and protect yourself with these kind of hard things, and I don't think I allowed myself to really process what had happened. And finally being with the kids and seeing them and working with them and all of that, it was like home.
–Whitney Metz, president of Cache Theatre Company and director of "Matilda"
Metz said when they determined to perform the show in April — an entire year after they originally planned to put it on — she didn't have a plan B to set it to an even later date, even if they would have had to perform it in masks.
"It's crazy because we had already spent so much money on the show; and if we had just canceled it, we would have lost all that money. And for a nonprofit theater, that would have been a huge hit," she said.
In the year between rehearsing for the original performance and the upcoming performance, a lot changed. Adult characters had to be recast, new choreographers were enlisted, and three of the children were moved into the teen ensemble when Metz realized they had grown so tall — they are now the same height as the "Matilda" villain, Ms. Trunchbull. Three new children were cast to take their place.
Metz said they decided the show deserved a fresh start, and they started from scratch with new choreography.
"We just felt like to bring the old cast and the new cast together, that starting fresh was the right way to go," she said.
Although they are taking a new approach, Metz still feels it helps a lot that many of the cast members have known the songs for a year. She said the children's abilities have grown a lot in the past year and she believes their performance will be even better than it would have been last year.
When she walked in the door on the day they started rehearsals back up, Metz said it was like the last year hadn't even happened; it felt very surreal. She said they all picked up right where they left off, and a hug from one of her cast members made her realize how much she had missed it.
"I think that you try and protect yourself with these kind of hard things, and I don't think I allowed myself to really process what had happened," Metz said. "And finally being with the kids and seeing them and working with them and all of that, it was like home."
"Matilda the Musical" will run from April 30 to May 8 at the Ellen Eccles Theatre in Logan. Audience members will be "moderately distanced," as they are only allowed to sell seats at half capacity. Audience members will wear masks, and cast members will wear masks backstage.