In past years, Virden Theatre Productions has certainly built a presence in the Westman area with elaborately polished productions such as an innovative version of The Sound of Musicin 2015, Gershwin’s fresh and dazzling Crazy for Youin 2016, the unforgettable Mamma Miain 2018 and last year’s hilarious hit, Elf the Musical. Over the years their audiences have really grown, spanning large distances across Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
This spring, the theatre company had to audition remotely for the new musical Matilda and the talented cast began the relatively new adventure of Zoom rehearsals to make a start at learning the songs and creating characters. This fall brought more uncertainty, so the company felt the most promising possibility to enable performers to showcase their work would be to host an outdoor event next summer. And so, the concept began …
In the second week of June 2021, the company is planning to do their production outside at Brandon’s Festival Park, the beautiful new amphitheatre that was built at the Discovery Centre. Co-director of Matilda, Dean Munchinsky had this to say, “We have considered summer theatre for a long time and the current COVID situation has forced us to think outside of the box, and at this point, we couldn’t be more excited. Who knows, there is definitely the possibility that this venture could become an annual project covering two weekends each summer in Westman.”
The company is prepared to roll with any restrictions that will be in place next summer, as things are quite hard to predict. They have a team already dreaming elaborate sets and all the extra technical needs this huge project will entail. Production team member Laura Wright had this to say: “Michelle is always coming up with new and innovative ideas, and this Rainbow Stage-like experience will be an exciting experience for Westman audiences next summer.”
The committee wants to be sure to let Westman know that they haven’t abandoned their beautiful AUD Theatre, just giving her a rest in the interest of safety. They want to assure their followers that the AUD will be alive again with the magic of local musical theatre and they certainly look forward to that day and the unique camaraderie always formed in the nooks and crannies of this historic building, both on stage and off.
The cast is centred by the extraordinary Nyah Perkin of Souris in the title role of Matilda. Nyah was cast in Rainbow’s Stage’s Wizard of Oz this summer, a production that of course was cancelled. She also recently filmed in Winnipeg for an upcoming Hallmark movie. Producer/Director Michelle Chyzyk said, “Nyah is extraordinary. She could definitely garner consideration for this role in a professional production. She inspires all of us.”
Homegrown talent Todd Plaisier promises to be ultra-memorable as the nasty Agatha Trunchbull, and he is looking forward to sharing the stage with his talented son, Tristan. The roles of Matilda’s miserable parents will be played by local businessman and co-director Dean Munchinsky and Brandon rock goddess, Mariah Phillips. Susan Martens teaches private piano and voice in Virden and she is excited to take on the role of Matilda’s lovely teacher, Miss Honey. This truly extraordinary cast also includes well-known Westman talents such as Karen Chrest, Rob Lovatt, Marla Fontaine, Emilie Blaikie, Greg Kirk, and Darrell Corbel. Of course, we can’t wait to see Joey Simms (last year’s Buddy the Elf) appear as Rudolpho, Mrs. Wormwood’s passionate ballroom dance teacher. The teenage performers range from ages twelve through nineteen and hail from six different Westman communities. Seven of them were slated to tour with what would have been the 2020 Westman Youth Choir. These fine young people will play such a very large part in this imaginative show.
So, in these challenging times, Virden Theatre Productions gives you something to look forward to. Mark your 2021 calendars for June 9 -13.
In the words of Matilda,
Just because you find that life’s not fair
It doesn’t mean that you just have to grin and bear it.
If you always take it on the chin and wear it,
You might as well be saying you think that it’s okay.
And that’s not right.
You have to put it right.
- Matilda the Musical 2021