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The show must go on for Tallahassee theatres helping each other after pandemic shutdowns

Mallory Greisl as Matilda, March 2020, Young Actors Theatre
Paul Allison Grimes Photography
Young Actors Theatre
Mallory Greisl as Matilda, March 2020, Young Actors Theatre

Stages went dark early in the pandemic, devastating the bottom line of community theatres. Many of them are bouncing back because ‘the show must go on,’ although it doesn’t always go as planned.

Take the cast and crew that spent months planning and rehearsing for the Tallahassee debut of Roald Dahl's Matilda The Musical at Young Actors Theatre (YAT).

They were so close. It was March of 2020 when everyone was told to stand down.

“We were a week away from opening,” says performer Mallory Greisl. “At the time, we thought it was going to be postponed for a little bit, not knowing the full gravity of the situation.”

The show would never have its opening night. Greisl, the star of the show, says reality started to set in as the pandemic wore on. “No one got to see what we did, what we had created, and it was so incredible.”

On a bright note, a Zoom video of the cast got some national attention.

Now that theatres are back open, a bittersweet turn of events has Greisl again getting the chance to portray the show’s clever and headstrong title character, this time at the Quincy Music Theatre. “It's exhilarating,” says Greisl. “I think it also speaks to… things are always going to keep on changing, but it's still going to be good.”

By the time theatres were able to reopen, YAT had other shows in the pipeline with a new season already announced. But thousands of dollars’ worth of items designed to bring Matilda to life were still sitting in the big pink building on Glenview Drive.

“The team at Young Actors got around the table and said, what good is our Matilda doing collecting dust upstairs in storage? Why don't we contact our friends and pay it forward?” YAT Executive Director Sarah Doolin Roy says they offered over 100 costumes, props, and set pieces to the Quincy production, as well as Deerlake Middle School, which will do its version of Matilda in April. The Deerlake cast includes a dozen YAT students.

“We are so excited to see many of our students in these productions, and we also are excited to collaborate with others because the performing arts industry has been hit really hard,” Roy says. “For us to move forward together, it will only create a vibrant Big Bend community.”

The Tallahassee Ballet is also offering help, lending costume pieces for YAT’s upcoming production of Frozen Jr.

Quincy Music Theatre’s Roald Dahl's Matilda The Musical opens Friday, Feb. 11 and runs on select dates through Feb. 20th. Click here for ticket information.

Click here for information about YAT’s next shows and here for information about the Tallahassee Ballet.

Gina Jordan is the host of Morning Edition for WFSU News. Gina is a Tallahassee native and graduate of Florida State University. She spent 15 years working in news/talk and country radio in Orlando before becoming a reporter and All Things Considered host for WFSU in 2008. Follow Gina: @hearyourthought on Twitter. Click below for Gina's full bio.