As ‘Matilda The Musical’ readies for opening night, TMR celebrates with a 40-minute special CMAC episode and more

Nine months.

That was the gestation period for the Children’s Musical Theaterworks production of “Matilda The Musical.” It’s fitting that the opening of the show features the birth of the famed title character. At least Matilda wasn’t an elephant.

To mark the occasion, we at “The Munro Review on CMAC” filmed a special episode devoted to the production:

It includes musical numbers from the show performed for the first time on the stage of the Fresno Veterans Memorial Auditorium after all those many months of rehearsals.

I also interviewed a number of cast members, and those clips are interspersed with the production numbers. I talk with cast members Kate Breton and Hannah Williams (who share the role of Matilda), Randy Kohlruss and Noah Miranda (Miss Trunchbull), and Karina Balfour and Ella Rutiaga (Mrs. Wormwood).


I also chat with Abbey Engel, who loved being in the show so much that even when she learned she wouldn’t be able to perform because the ultimate opening date conflicted with family travel plans, she still showed up for all the rehearsals.

CMT had originally planned to open the show on Dec. 4, 2020. That changed to Feb. 5. Then April 30.

Related stories: As new year starts for arts groups, a backstage look at CMT’s finances gives cause for worry — and optimism

But even when the pandemic kept pushing the opening date later and later, the company kept plugging away. Director Julie Lucido planned — and replanned — intricate rehearsal schedules chock full of social distancing. For the child and adult actors in the all-ages production, the experience became a way to keep fluent in theater even while the rest of that world had pretty much shut down.

The rules are still changing even as the show prepares to open.

Seating is very limited for the opening weekend because of social-distancing protocols, which are in effect both for audience members and the cast, says K.C. Rutiaga, the CMT board president.

“We’ve been following the special rules in California that apply to performers,” Rutiaga says. “These rules are a little more strict than those that apply to the general public or audience. At this point in time the rules have not been updated since April. As of now, we are not able to comply to the point of being able to perform without masks. The audience however, will be more free on weekend 2.”


Along with the CMAC episode, The Munro Review is further celebrating “Matilda” with an extra-special giveaway. I am so excited to be able to give away tickets to a live performance again!

Here’s what the prize package consists of:

• Four tickets to either the 7:30 p.m.performance on Friday, June 18, or the 7:30 p.m. performance on Saturday, June 19.

• A CMT “Matilda” poster signed by the principal cast members.

•  In a nod to the show, I will bake a Bruce Bogtrotter’s Chocolate Cake for the winner that will be rich enough to dissuade even the hardiest-stomached elementary student from eating the whole thing in one sitting.

The contest is open to members, donors and individual sponsors of The Munro Review.

Tax-deductible memberships start at $5 a month, and you can make a one-time donation of as little as $3. (Paid memberships help keep the site running, and paid members get special members-only benefits. Please consider a paid membership in support of independent, local arts journalism.) A free membership option is available.

For details on how to join, go to the Membership and Sponsorship page. No purchase, donation or membership is necessary to enter the ticket giveaway.

To enter this giveaway, leave a reply on this post (see the comments field below) telling me what you think it will be like to see live theater again. (Or, if you’re shy, just give your name.) Deadline to enter is 10 a.m. Tuesday, June 8. The winner will be picked at random and notified by email, so be sure to provide a valid email address.

If you’re interested in more free theater tickets, I’m also running a giveaway for Fresno State’s streaming version of “All in the Timing,” which opens June 4. You’ll find more details here.

The Munro Review has no paywall but is financially supported by readers who believe in its non-profit mission of bringing professional arts journalism to the central San Joaquin Valley. You can help by signing up for a monthly recurring paid membership or make a one-time donation of as little as $3. All memberships and donations are tax-deductible.

Covering the arts online in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Lover of theater, classical music, visual arts, the literary arts and all creative endeavors. Former Fresno Bee arts critic and columnist. Graduate of Columbia University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Excited to be exploring the new world of arts journalism.

Comments (13)

  • Kailyn Sanders

    Being able to see live theatre again would be a dream come true! it’s been a long time since a lot of us have been able to see live theatre, so seeing it again would be a huge blessing! I can’t wait to go and see a show in person again! Thank you for this opportunity!

  • Michelle A Messer

    I can’t wait to feel the energy of a live performance and the emotions of hard work paying off!!!


    Delight…PURE delight!

  • Being back in live theater will be the best experience in over a year. Of all the restrictions, it’s what I missed the most! Kudos to CMT

    • The return of live theater is the BEST, but I have to say that Tillie on that red pillow is a real show stopper!!

  • Hope Nisly

    Seeing live theatre again will be deeply satisfying. Theatre feeds my soul.

  • As much as I appreciate Zooming around the world to see art, music and theater, it doesn’t compare to the energy of a live connection with the artists/actors.

  • Marianne Kast

    The whole idea of planning an evening out, seeing live theater, & being with friends is overwhelming!

  • Kaila Igasan

    I have been dying to see a live performance again!! And especially Matilda, which I have wanted to see forever!

  • Randy Coombs

    Being able go to theatre will be awesome…one more thing that feels like normal!

  • Live theatre again: Wonderful! One more step closer to normality.

  • Courtney Bautista

    I might honestly cry the first time I see live theater again. And I’m not a crier.

  • Calvin V Hoff

    I’m eager to be part of an audience where audience responses actually make a difference to the success of the performance!
    Calvin Hoff


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