Amanda Xi ‘25
After months of rehearsals and behind-the-scenes work, the Stony Batter Players finally performed their production of Matilda: The Musical last week. Stony Batter worked together with theater director Kelly Dowling and technical director Jessica Doubell to bring Matilda to the stage. Along with impressive props and technical work, hours of rehearsal time were dedicated to improving the actors’ final performance.
Cast member Bao Han Pham ’25 recalled her tight schedule during tech week. “We have 5:30 dinner, and then our call’s at 6:30. Then, we have to be on stage at 7:00 for mic checks. All these things end at around 10:00. It’s not just rehearsal. It’s mic check, costume, makeup, full out singing like the actual performance.”
During tech week, daily rehearsals are used to improve specific scenes and sequences. If the performers were learning choreography for a dance, then rehearsal that day would focus on practicing those dances repeatedly.
However, some days the actors ran “start and stops” when the entire show was run until they stopped at a scene that needed correction. As the final performance neared, running the entire show without pauses proved beneficial in predicting the run time.
Pham recalls tech week as the most stressful part of preparing for the show. “I think the most stressful time is tech week. It’s the most difficult time because we have scene changes, which are hard because you have to memorize them; and you can mess them up so easily.”
The blocks used in the classroom settings are just one example of how important props were to the show. Many of the props in Matilda were made with help from Doubell.
Doubell said, “All the props had to look like they were being used by little kids. Since our students aren’t little kids, we had to size up the props to make it seem like they were bigger. Hence the giant swing set and see-saws.”
Stage manager Ellie Miller ’23 noted scene changes as being tough to manage. “Each of the blocks were numbered, and they all had very specific places of where they had to go.”
Despite the long hours and rigorous training, many performers handled their stress by finding support in each other. Since rehearsals were hours long, they offered an opportunity for many students to form close relationships with each other. During the most stressful weeks, performers would simply sit down and bond with each other.
As Riley Schermerhorn ’22, who played Mrs. Wormwood, Matilda’s mother, described, “We have our own culture in Stony and so many traditions.”
As a senior, this was Schermerhorn’s last performance at Mercersburg Academy. She continued, “I got to perform on the Simon [Theater] stage, got ready in the mezzanine, and I saw all of these things get put together, which I think is amazing because we have something truly amazing here and getting to perform on that stage, perform with this group of people. I’ll never do it again, and I think that makes it very special.”