Matilda the Musical Comes to State College

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Will Yurman

Eliza Marcovitch (left) and Leah Mueller (right) perform in Matilda the Musical. "It was a thrill to bring Miss Honey to life," Mueller said.

Rachel Foster, Staff Writer

FUSE Productions, a State College local theatre group, started off their 2019-2020 mainstage season by presenting Matilda the Musical from September 5th-7th at Schwab Auditorium. Richard Biever, producing artistic director of FUSE, directs the show with help from choreographer, Connor Weigand. FUSE produces quality shows and entertainment by bringing together local and professional actors from around the country as well as the community. 

Based on the book Matilda by Ronald Dahl, Matilda the Musical follows Matilda, a young girl who finds an escape from her hard life in books and her kind school teacher Miss Honey. The show features Eliza Marcovitch as Matilda, Leah Mueller as Miss Honey, Jonathan O’Harrow as Miss Trunchbull, and Steve Snyder and Katie Kessinger as Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood. 

Richard Biever, the producing artistic director and founder of FUSE Productions was inspired to bring Matilda to FUSE’s mainstage season this year. Biever said, “I wanted to do Matilda because we have so many talented children and teens. I was certain our audiences would enjoy the show, especially because it’s based on a well-loved book. I wanted to be the first in the area to do the show!”

Biever had a great time working with the cast, crew, and everyone else involved. “This was an incredible cast,” Biver said. “I’ve worked with all of the adults many times and most of the children. Everyone was so into the show that it made the process a joy.”

Leah Mueller, who portrays Miss Honey, is currently a music teacher at Delta Middle School. “It was a thrill to bring Miss Honey to life,” Mueller said. “She is such a lovely person to portray because she is kind and supports her students through extreme challenges. The hardest part about playing Miss Honey is that she has very low self-esteem. She had been through lots of trauma in her life– losing both of her parents and raised by a very cruel aunt– but she was able to persevere despite these circumstances.”

Mueller described Miss Honey as a character who the general audience can connect and empathize with.“The Wormwoods and Miss Trunchbull are hilarious and bits of them certainly remind you of people you may have met, but overall they are larger than life characters,” Mueller said. “I think Miss Honey is a little bit more like a real-life person you may know or meet.”

FUSE brought this show to life over the course of six weeks; the kids in the show had two weeks of Matilda “boot-camp” and then four weeks of rehearsal with the adults. “The rehearsal process was well, crazy, but incredible. It was fast-paced, required lots of hard work, but overall, it was some of the best weeks of my life,” Olivia Biever, an ensemble member and the daughter of Richard Biever said. “Being involved with Matilda was an irreplaceable experience. I know that I have grown so much, and I wouldn’t be the person or performer I am without this experience.”

The themes presented in this show were significant to many of the members of the audience.

“The message of Matilda is all about how we treat children. It is important to love and respect children and listen to what they have to say,” Mueller said.

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