P.S. 114 Returns to the Stage with Matilda Jr.

 P.S. 114 Returns to the Stage with Matilda Jr.

By Katie McFadden

After being put on pause due to Covid, P.S./M.S. 114Q’s theater program came roaring back in rebellion with “Matilda Jr. The Musical.”

On June 1 and June 2, the curtains opened at The Belle Harbor School and parents, siblings, friends and staff were blown away by the talent that radiated from the stage. The performance was made possible through a grant obtained by Councilwoman Joann Ariola to invite Inside Broadway to help the school’s theater program bring the magic of Matilda Jr. to life.

“I am honored to be able to fund programs in our schools that allow our children to show off their abilities and shine!” Councilwoman Ariola said on social media after seeing the opening performance on Thursday.

At Friday’s performance, P.S. 114 Principal Elizabeth Welsome shared some more good news. “We want to thank Councilwoman Joann Ariola, who provided the grant for Inside Broadway. We are really excited because she has already told us that we are getting the grant again next year!” she said to applause from the audience.

Andrew Winans, who helped the students put the performance together through Inside Broadway, thanked Ms. Welsome for making it possible, as well as musical director Ginger Bennett, stage manager Gina Machado and the school’s PTA that showed its support from the start. “I really hope you enjoy all of the hard work we put in and I think you’re going to be really proud of the kids,” Winans said before the curtains rose for the final performance.

Proud was an understatement as each student nailed their respective parts. From the ensemble that sang and danced from the beginning, to Valentina Primarti captivating the audience as the show’s star, Matilda. The voice of Jordan Greenberg, who played Miss Honey, left the audience roaring with applause, including claps from fellow students on stage. Gabriella Musoff nailed the intimidating aspects of Ms. Trunchbull with her acting skills. Michael Zurheide and Lily Costa, who played Matilda’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood, sparked laughs with their bigger-than-life personalities. The mostly female cast adapted well to male character roles, such as Millie Balfe taking on the charismatic role of a student named Nigel, and Jordana Landberg, who had the job of bringing Bruce alive, as she powered through pretending to eat a massive chocolate cake as one of Ms. Trunchbull’s punishments on the kids. And impressively, they all did it with a British accent, taking on British author Roald Dahl’s original work reflecting some of his own traumatizing experiences at boarding school. The students did a wonderful job of bringing it all together, while even finding creative ways to create the magic of the play, showcasing Matilda’s superpowers that help to take down Ms. Trunchbull and bring harmony back to the school under Miss Honey.

Matilda Jr. was the perfect show for The Belle Harbor School theater program’s return, restoring harmony to a great program that will continue into the future, thanks to funding from Councilwoman Ariola.

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