Lexi Largay rehearses for her role as Matilda with Jasper Keller, who plays the Escapologist, in Royal River Community Players’ production of “Matilda the Musical.” Contributed / Stanley Kimball

Janie Downey moved home to Virginia after years of theater work in Maine, but she’s back again because she couldn’t resist the lure of directing “Matilda the Musical.”

“I love the dark humor in this show, the score is amazing, and the characters are complex,” Downey said.

The musical will be performed at Royal River Community Players in Yarmouth from May 17 to 26.

Based on the popular novel by Roald Dahl, “Matilda the Musical” tells the story of a young girl who, after being mistreated by her parents and older brother, turns to the magic of books as a means of escape. The show has been praised for its rich storytelling, enchanting characters and empowering message that anyone can overcome adversity with courage and determination.

“The bonus for me is that half the cast is around age 10, and I love teaching, directing and working with kids as well as adults,” Downey said.

Selected from over 60 auditioners, the cast includes a dynamic mix of seasoned and emerging local talents, RRCP Executive Director Chris Sullivan said.


The staging of the show is unique to other adaptations audiences may have seen elsewhere because of the Yarmouth theater’s small stage. It will allow for the audience to feel fully engulfed in the story, he said.

“Everyone’s favorite parts are still there, but Downey makes it original by creating an immersive experience,” he said.

Downey said she is eager to present a show that resonates with, and inspires, the audience by involving them right from the start.

“I hope audience members walk out the door of this show remembering that no matter what your age, if you stick up for what you know is right, you can win,” Downey said. “Even if that means you have to be a little bit naughty.”

Performances run for two weeks, with Friday and Saturday shows at 7 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Tickets are on sale for $22 at royalrivercommunityplayers.com.

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