Matilda Jr. opens at Burrillville theater next weekend

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BURRILLVILLE – After previous successful show partnerships, the Assembly Theatre in Harrisville will be opening its doors to the public once again next weekend with Inspiration Performing Arts Company for the youth production of “Matilda Jr” on May 14 and 15.

Inspiration Performing Arts Company, a local organization with a mission to provide performing arts opportunities to underserved members of the community, has teamed up with the Patrons of the Assembly Theatre to offer the youth production. The Patrons of the Assembly Theatre, a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation, promotes the historic preservation and restoration of the Assembly Theatre for the benefit, education, and enjoyment of the public.

“We strive to foster, promote, and increase public knowledge of the arts and cultural activities in Burrillville provided by the Assembly Theatre,” noted a release on the upcoming production.

Originally scheduled to open in March of 2022, the production ran into difficulties due to the Omicron COVID variant over the winter and had to halt rehearsals to keep the cast and crew safe.

“We have faced and overcome many challenges over the past few years due to COVID and it has never stopped us from pursuing our mission and continuing to offer programming for our community,” said Emily Garven, founder and Executive Director of IPAC. “We knew moving our production would come with additional difficulties, but we also knew we had an amazing team that could get it done.”

Garven said the production has been a group effort, bringing together many talented people in the community, and combining their skills and resources to bring theater back to the public. The production is directed by Rebecca Donald of East Greenwich, with music directed by Brittany Dyer of Attleboro, Mass. Choreography is spearheaded by Alex Duprey of Providence, and stage management provided by Eve Lajoie of Pawtucket. Joni Champagne and Rebecca Silva were responsible for costumes and set design, Fred Fortier, with specialty props by Sue Vieira. Technical directing and lighting is provided by Adam Ramsey and Advanced Production and Design.

The production will run Saturday and Sunday, May 14 and 15 at the East Avenue theater. Performers from across Massachusetts and Rhode Island were selected through an open audition to join the cast of this production.

“It has been an absolute pleasure directing this production,” said Donald, a veteran of Rhode Island musical theater. “It has been no easy task with all of the pandemic setbacks, but I could not be more proud of our cast and staff for persevering through it all. They have put so much energy and effort in and created a beautiful show for family and friends.”

Holly Dumaine-Picard, executive chairperson of the Patrons described the outcome as, “incredible.”

“It is great to see everyone work together to accomplish creating fantastic live musical theater. We always look forward to our collaborations with IPAC. I can’t wait to welcome guests to the Assembly Theatre,” Dumaine-Picard said.

The organizations have teamed up on past productions throughout the pandemic.

“We are so grateful to Holly and the Patrons of the Assembly Theatre for teaming up with us to continue to offer theater experiences to our community and navigate the, ‘new normal,’ of theater together,” Garven said. “It is amazing what we have been able to do as a team despite all of the challenges we have faced.”

IPAC and the Assembly Theatre continue to monitor for COVID guidelines and recommendations to keep the cast and crew safe and healthy through the completion of the project, according to Garven.

The group of young, local actors will offer three performance with shows Saturday at 2 and 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at www.inspirationperformingarts.com and www.assemblytheatre.org/events.

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