Emily Buckley, editor in chief

Ella Kelstrom

Tessa Maughan

Last January, two local middle school-aged girls were double cast and gearing up to take turns performing the demanding lead role in Cache Theatre Company’s production of Matilda. Two weeks before the show’s opening, the COVID-19 pandemic hit Cache Valley and caused all large public gatherings to come to a screeching halt. The show was postponed indefinitely. Although disappointed, the girls, Ella Kelstrom, 11, a 6th-grade student at Thomas Edison South and Tessa Maughan, 13, a 7th-grade student at Spring Creek Middle School, and the rest of the cast, continued practicing individually in hopes that the show would eventually go on.

Now, one year later, the show is indeed going on and the cast of 40 is finetuning their parts for what is sure to be a fantastic run. 

Matilda is a musical comedy based on a 1988 novel of the same name by Roald Dahl. It tells the story of an extraordinary little girl with extraordinary powers. Matilda is the daughter of negligent parents and finds refuge from her trials in library books. Although school is not much better than home for Matilda, she finds companionship in her teacher Miss Honey. The story is full of lessons of bravery and a little bit of mischief. The show’s staging and score have earned numerous honors, including five Tony Awards.

Ella says this is her first lead in a local production, but has been part of the ensemble casts of various troops’ productions of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat, Once on This Island, Anastasia, Music Man, and Annie. 

Tessa, on the other hand, has only performed on stage once before, as Tessie in her church group’s production of Annie, and says she is excited for this “big step up.”

Asked what the hardest part of performing is, Tessa quickly says, “not messing up!” but the best part, the girls agree, is when the show ends and they hear applause from the audience. 

Cache Theatre Company president and show director Whitney Metz says the cast includes 12 children, and all but two were able to retain their roles from last year. “Two kids grew up too much in the last year and were moved up to the teen ensemble,” Whitney said. “The perseverance of these kids is inspiring. They have waited so long to perform.”

Whitney says audiences can look forward to an outstanding presentation, including some surprises with a fly system, and a moving performance of the song “Quiet” with lyrics that are ‘very relatable’ after a chaotic year.

The show is scheduled for eight performances at Ellen Eccles Theatre between April 30 and May 8, with Ella and Tessa each performing four times. Tickets are on sale now at cachetheatre.com or cachearts.org.