Camille Morris (Matilda) and Lyra Legawiec (Trunchbull) prepare for the Mt. Ararat Middle School production of “Matilda Jr.” Courtesy of Adam Blais

Mt. Ararat Middle School will perform its first play in two years, “Matilda Jr. The Musical,” this weekend at the Orion Performing Arts Center.

Director Adam Blais said he’s grown accustomed to the limitations placed on the arts by COVID-19, but it’s been hard on the students. In 2020, Mt. Ararat Middle School was ready to perform the show, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” but the school shut down before opening night because of the pandemic.

Blais said masks are optional for the young actors, thanks to changes in school policy on masking. For students who want to wear masks, the show’s costume design incorporates masks into the attire, he said.

With 40 students acting on stage and 20 students working backstage, this has become the largest production the middle school has done.  “Getting all those people, in that space, at the same time is challenging,” said Blais.

“The biggest challenge is how young they are,” he added. “This is their first show because they spent all of middle school in the pandemic. They have had to learn and adapt in different ways.”

Blais said masks present some challenges for the actors.


“Projection has been an issue. It requires so much breath support. They are still learning how to do that. They are so young. How do you project your voice? There is so much we can’t physically show them while we wear masks. Not only volume, but how characters communicate and relate to one another.”

Although challenging, Blais said it created a new teachable moment.

“With no idea who’s talking on stage, we really have to deal with the physicality,” he said. “That has made it wonderful in a sense. What are your arms doing? What are your legs doing? It has forced us to pay attention.”

Blais said he chose “Matilda Jr.” because it would allow dozens of students to participate, and the story is relatable to all ages.

“Matilda Jr.” is based on the 1988 Roald Dahl novel, “Matilda.” It is the story of a 5-year-old girl with extreme intelligence, imagination and supernatural powers. The musical first premiered in London’s West End in 2011 and made its Broadway debut in 2013.

Matilda will be played by Mt. Ararat Middle School student Camille Morris, “a young actress with a lot of spunk and personality, which is what Matilda requires,” said Blais.


Camille’s father Drew Morris said they are very proud of her and all of the students in the production. He said the students have put in a lot of hard work and have really enjoyed working with Blais.

Before the pandemic, Camille made her first stage debut in the Midcoast Youth Theater’s production of “Seussical, The Musical,” in 2020.

Morris said, “Since then, she talks often about her Broadway aspirations. Acting and singing have given her such confidence, it’s wonderful to see and we’re thankful she has the chance to perform in her younger years. And with the pandemic hitting the arts so hard, to have these kids back on stage, we’re absolutely thrilled.”

All proceeds from ticket sales will go toward the next theater production. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for staff, students and seniors. The Orion Performing Arts Center is located at 66 Republic Ave. in Topsham.

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