Stage Door News
Toronto: Check In From Away interviews three former Toronto Matildas
Tuesday, May 19, 2020
Steffi and Lisa (we think we should call them S’n’L from now on) check in with the three young actresses who shared the title role in Matilda The Musical in 2016. They were children four years ago; now they are teenagers. So S’n’L explore the theme, “Revolting Children — Teenagers in Isolation”.
Four years ago, three local young girls startled and delighted Toronto audiences in the title role in Matilda The Musical. Although the character herself is diminutive, the role is huge. For starters, Matilda is on stage almost the entire length of the show. How three nine-year-olds could have memorized the clever lines of playwright Dennis Kelly and the tongue-twisting lyrics of Tim Minchin, let alone perform a role that demanded physical stamina and some amazing gymnastics and illusions, was in itself a miracle, to reference the title of the miraculous opening number.
Hannah Levinson, Jaime MacLean and Jenna Weir are now bonafide teenagers. What has life been like for them in the intervening four years and how are they dealing with isolating at home? After all, teenage-hood is known for being more moody and terrible than the terrible twos. Check out the newest episode of Check In From Away.
Here are some fun facts about the show and its Toronto company:
- Based on Roald Dahl’s beloved 1988 book, the Royal Shakespeare Company and Dodger Theatricals production of Matilda The Musical played the Ed Mirvish Theatre for six months from July 5, 2016 through January 7, 2017.
The production was an extended stop on the first national tour, and featured several Canadians in the lead roles, including Hannah Levinson, Jaime Maclean and Jenna Weir (who were just 9 and 10 years old at the time) alternating in the title role; Dan Chameroy as Miss Agatha Trunchbull, the child-hating headmistress and world champion hammer thrower; Degrassi High’s Paula Brancati as Miss Honey; and Brandon McGibbon (Once, Carmen Chia in our production of Mel Brooks’ The Producers) and Darcy Stewart as Matilda’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood. After Toronto, most of them continued on with the national tour throughout the United States until it closed in June 2017.
- The three young Matildas have continued their acting careers:
Hannah Levinson won a Toronto Theatre Critics Award for playing Young Alison in the Musical Stage/Mirvish co-production of Fun Home at the CAA Theatre. She also has several television credits, with featured turns in 11/22/63(Hulu) and Designated Survivor (ABC). She voices the role of Emily in PBS’s Clifford the Big Red Dog and has a supporting role in the upcoming animated feature Fireheart. She also appears in the first season of Ghost Writer on Apple TV+.
- Jaime Maclean performed as one of the spunky orphans in Annie at the Ed Mirvish Theatre in 2018, when we presented London’s West End production starring Lesley Nicol (Mrs. Patmore of Downton Abbey) as Miss Hannigan. She then starred in the Arts Club Theatre productions of Fun Home (also as Young Alison) and The Sound of Music, and The Hockey Sweater at the National Arts Centre.
- Jenna Weir was also one of the orphans in Annie at the Ed Mirvish Theatre. She most recently made her Broadway debut as Young Elsa in Disney’s Frozen, and also has numerous TV movie credits for the Hallmark Channel.
- Dan Chameroy got his start performing in the ensembles of Mirvish productions, first with Les Misérables in 1991 (where he met his wife) and then the original Canadian production of Miss Saigon in 1993. He then graduated to lead roles, playing Gaston to Kerry Butler’s Belle in Beauty and the Beast at the Princess of Wales Theatre in 1995 (for which he won a Dora Award), Plumbum in several seasons of Ross Petty’s holiday pantomimes, and starring at the Stratford Festival, where he most recently had memorable turns as Frank N’ Furter in The Rocky Horror Show and as Billy’s Dad in Billy Elliot.
The show featured music by Australian musician, comedian, actor and writer Tim Minchin, who is best known for his irreverent solo music career and for also writing the London and Broadway musical Groundhog Day. You may have seen him as Judas in the arena tour of Jesus Christ Superstar that was most recently streamed on YouTube as part of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Shows Must Go On pandemic fundraiser.
- The show was directed by the Tony and Olivier Award-winning Matthew Warchus, the current Artistic Director of London’s Old Vic Theatre (which, as you should very well know, was once owned by Ed and David Mirvish, who restored the theatre to its former glory). Matthew has had an illustrious career ranging from such critically-acclaimed productions as Art, God of Carnage, Boeing Boeing, and The Norman Conquests to Ghost The Musical and Lord of the Rings at the Princess of Wales Theatre in 2006. His wife Lauren Ward (who originated the role of Miss Honey in the original productions of Matilda The Musical in London and on Broadway) gave birth to one of their sons in Toronto while he was working on Lord of the Rings.