Matilda Delights Audiences With A Night Of Pure Magical Theatre

A night out at Moonlight Stage Ampitheatre, this time to see Roald Dahl’s ‘Matilda The Musical.’ The show was a masterpiece and just what musical theatre should be, a satisfying performance filled with amazing talent from young kids to adults that entertains an audience with performances of the highest quality. ‘Matilda The Musical’ continues its magical run at the Moonlight Ampitheatre on select dates through August 3.

The British import based on the famed children’s novel from author Roald Dahl is brought to life by a creative team including Broadway actor Jamie Torcellini who serves as director of this production, we last saw him in last month’s ‘The Producers.’ Torcellini, alongside choreographer Collen Kollar Smith, and musical director Elan McMahan bring life to the Tony Award winning musical with book by Dennis Kelly and music by Tim Minchin.

Alexander Ikizyan (center) with the Revolting Children by Ken Jacques

Having never seen the movie before, I had no idea what to expect from this show. I went in ready to soak up whatever I was presented and from the beginning moments until the end I was enamored by what I was seeing.

The performance was filled with so many inspiring and catchy songs as well as some high-energy dance numbers, many performed solely by young actors. The talent of these actors is immediately know from the opening number ‘Miracle.’ This exhilarating tale of empowerment of these kids and how they are able to navigate childhood is inspiring.

Matilda, a young girl with amazing wit and intelligence, doesn’t have the best home life but she deals with it in the best way she can even at times being a little bit naughty. Charity Rose, who leads the cast in the title role is an amazing talent. She delivers a one-two-punch with her ability to perform and sing. In one scene she steps away from the main-stage, comes out front on the walk-around, it is there that we see just how small Rose is and how big of a talent exudes from her.

Matilda the Musical at Moonlight Stage Ampitheatre Cody Rodriguez Review
Left to right: Piatt C. Pund, Kevin Hafso-Koppman, Kristina Miller-Weston and Charity Rose by Ken Jacques

The song ‘Naughty’ is our first real introduction to Matilda and when we learn what she’s going through in life. Her father Mr. Wormwood (Kevin Hafso-Koppman), a shady salesman, always wanted a boy and refers to her as such. Her mother, Mrs. Wormwood (Kristina Miller-Weston), is more concerned with her opportunity at the bi-annual international amateur Salsa and Ballroom Dancing Championships.

Her partner in crime, Rudolpho (Ala Tiatia), delivers some stand-out moments that had the crowd roaring with laughter. The musical number ‘Loud,’ is where his talents as a dancer shine. The song lyrics ‘stick out from the crowd’ really is what he is allowed to do.

Matilda the Musical at Moonlight Stage Ampitheatre Cody Rodriguez Review
Ashley Fox Linton (left) and Charity Rose by Ken Jacques


As Matilda takes on the next stage of her life in school she takes that journey alongside her new teacher Miss Honey (Ashley Fox Linton). Miss Honey becomes her champion in life as she sees the potential, in the young girl, that no one else sees. Linton plays the role well as we gain an emotional connection with her as she works to power against Miss Trunchbull.

Matilda the Musical at Moonlight Stage Ampitheatre Cody Rodriguez Review
Charity Rose (left) and Randall Hickman by Ken Jacques

Matilda’s school life is no smooth sailing as pretty much from the beginning she is on Miss Trunchbull’s list. The school’s mean headmistress, she hates children and loves thinking up new punishments for those who don’t abide by her rules. Randall Hickman is the perfect casting for this particular role. It’s always exciting to see Hickman take to the stage and transform into whatever character he is tasked with playing. We last saw him take on the bigger than life role of Ursula in The Little Mermaid.’ A similar character in tone he plays Trunchbull in such a manor that we hate the character so much but love Hickman at the same time for what he is giving us on the stage.

Matilda is never discouraged by Miss Trunchbull, her family life has given her courage to stand-up. Her cleverness and a surprise that I won’t spoil become a saving grace for her, Miss Honey, and her classmates.

The stage design from Stephen Gifford is magnificent and towers over the actors in a good way.  Jennifer Edwards lighting transforms the stage from scene to scene. The rest of the cast is uber talented as the dancing and singing by everyone else is a delight to watch as they make it seem so easy. ‘When I Grow Up’ and “Revolting Children’ were crowd pleasers that were great opportunities for the cast to shine.

I’ve been to numerous productions through the years at Moonlight Stage Amphitheater and I have to say this production of ‘Matilda The Musical’ is now one of my favorite shows to have seen. I always look forward to the summer because of the amazing talent and high production values associated with anything that Moonlight puts out each year. If you have a chance I would highly recommend heading out for a night of theater.

Cast and Crew in Moonlight’s The Producers

Making only her second stage appearance, and her Moonlight debut, is Charity Rose in the title role. From Studio City, CA, Rose pursues acting full-time and has several television and film credits to her name (Truth Be Told coming later this year to AppleTV; Hangout Wars, Splitting Up Together, The Goldbergs, and Happy Together). As Miss Honey, actress Ashley Fox Linton makes her Moonlight debut. Her Broadway National Tour credits include Wicked and Les Misérables (starring opposite Hugh Jackman); regional credits include Young Frankenstein (3-D Theatricals); The Return to the Forbidden Planet, Sylvia, The Last Five Years (Rubicon); Sunset Boulevard and S’Wonderful (Musical Theatre West); Sweeney Todd (Cygnet); and Call Me Madam (Goodspeed) amongst numerous others on stage and in television and film.

San Diego Actor of the Year for 2018, Kevin Hafso-Koppman, makes his Moonlight debut as Mr. Wormwood, Matilda’s father. He played the title role in Young Frankenstein for San Diego Musical Theatre; Pride and Prejudice and The History Boys for Cygnet Theatre; A Funny Thing Happened…Forum and This Random World for North Coast Repertory Theatre; Hamlet, The Imaginary Invalid, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Bright Star at The Old Globe Theatre; and numerous other roles at stages throughout San Diego County. As Matilda’s mother, Mrs. Wormwood, Kristina Miller-Weston returns to The Moonlight after appearing as Cheryl Ann in 2014’s Catch Me If You Can. Tours include Barbie Live!, Jersey Boys, and Havana. Other regional credits include Queenie in The Wild Party, Josephine in Big Fish, Ang in Serrano, and Nice Work If You Can Get It. She premieres her cabaret, Out Loud at the Rockwell on August 27.

Portraying the “gigantic holy terror and fierce tyrannical headmistress” Miss Trunchbull is award-winning actor Randall Hickman, celebrating his 30th summer with Moonlight Stage Productions. He returns after his endearing performances of Amos in 2018’s Chicago. Other recent Moonlight credits include the Frankenstein Monster in Young Frankenstein, Uncle Fester in The Addams Family, Mama in Hairspray, and Ursula in The Little Mermaid (San Diego Theatre Critics Circle Award for Best Featured Actor). With his partner Doug Davis, Hickman celebrates the 15th anniversary this fall as the owners of Vista’s Broadway Theatre.

Taking center stage as the musical’s “maggots,” are eight young actors all making their Moonlight Stage Productions debuts. Bobby Chiu (Del Mar) is Tommy, Sydney Hagler (Spring Valley) is Hortensia, Holland Hartpence (Santee) is Amanda Thripp, Gracie Howard (Encinitas) is Alice,Alexander Ikizyan (San Diego) is Bruce Bogtrotter, Mac Jarman (La Mesa) is Eric, Isabella Pruter (San Diego) is Lavender, and John (JP) Wishchuk (San Diego) is Nigel.

Rounding out the cast are Kalin Booker (Alta Loma), Josh Bradford (Vista), Audrey Joy Deubig (Escondido), Emily Frazier (Santa Ana), Tori Hitchcock (Escondido), Cody Ingram (La Mesa), Luke H. Jacobs (San Diego), Shirley Johnston (San Diego), Kylie Kennard (Encinitas),Dylan Nalbandian (Escondido), Joy Newbegin (Carlsbad), Greg Nicholas (Tustin), Piatt Pund (San Diego), Bennett Selby (Carlsbad), Amy Smith (Henderson, NV), Cassidy Ann Smith (Encinitas), Ala Tiatia (Carlsbad), Elliot Weaver (Carlsbad), and Jason W. Webb (Riverside).

Matilda The Musical’s creative team also includes Stephen Gifford (Scenic Design), Shon LeBlanc (Costume Design), Jennifer Edwards (Lighting Design), Jim Zadai (Sound Design), Peter Herman (Wig Design) Kevin Williams (Properties Design), Carlotta Malone, Roslyn Lehman, and Renetta Lloyd (Costume Coordinators), Bonnie Durben (Properties Master) and Stanley D. Cohen (Stage Manager).

Matilda The Musical features a book by Dennis Kelly and music by Tim Minchin.

Ticket Information

Single tickets for Moonlight Stage production of Matilda The Musical range from $17 – $57. There are discounts for Seniors and Students and military.  For tickets contact The Moonlight Amphitheatre at 760-724-2110 or visit the Moonlight Stage Productions Ticket Website.

July 17 – August 3, 2019
Gates open at 6:30 p.m.
Curtain at 8:00 p.m.
Tickets: $17 – $57.

Moonlight Amphitheater Location

The Moonlight Amphitheatre is located at 1200 Vale Terrace Dr, Vista, CA 92084
Take the Civic Center Drive and exit off Highway 78, go north. Turn right on E Vista Way. Turn right on Vale Terrace. Continue on Vale Terrace about 1/2 mile and turn left into Brengle Terrace Park.

Parking at Moonlight Amphitheatre

There is free parking available at Brengle Terrace Park. Shuttle service is available for those who end up parking in the upper grass lot. The shuttle will begin running 2.5 hours before the show starts as well as after the show.

For more information and tickets call The Moonlight Amphitheatre at 760-724-2110 or visit The Moonlight Stage Production website.

Moonlight Stage Production Season 2019

WEST SIDE STORY (August 14 – 31, 2019), and VICTOR/VICTORIA (September 11 – 28, 2019).


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