ASTRA youth to perform Matilda Jr. Friday

Middle school students in the ASTRA Program rehearse for Matilda Jr., which they will perform on Nov. 19 at C. L. Hoover Opera House.

ASTRA youth from Junction City Middle School will present Matilda Jr. on Friday, Nov. 19, at the C. L. Hoover Opera House.

The ASTRA Program is an after-school theatre program funded by the R2B4 Bramlage Family Foundation.

The middle school students come to C. L. Hoover Opera House three afternoons a week to work with directors of the program. They learn theatre techniques in vocals, choreography, improv, script reading, stage management, character roles and set design.

“What an opportunity for these young kids,” ASTRA Administrator Chris Heldstab said. “We see growth development in social skills and confidence building in each youth.”

Lead director and education director at the Opera House, Melissa Ford, along with Kansas State University Students Jackson Welsh, assistant director, and Annelise Mock and Jenna Bicklehaupt, associate directors, work with the youth to instill and create their best qualities in everything theatre.

“We are so excited about this fall’s performance of Matilda Jr. as it’s our first major production since the pandemic, and we are ready to thrill you with this production,” Heldstab said. “Last year, our youth participated in ASTRA via ZOOM, and were not able to create a live performance, so this is a very exciting time for these kids.”

Matilda JR is the story of a little girl with unusual powers. Matilda, played by Faye Fortner, finds refuge in library books, which she reads quickly and then creates her own stories. Matilda has astounding wit, intelligence and special powers. She’s unloved by her harsh parents, the Wormwoods, played by Sally Noles and Juls Hodge, but impresses her schoolteacher, the highly loveable Miss Honey, played by Elliadora Ibarra. Matilda’s school life isn’t easy, as the school’s mean headmistress, Miss Trunchbull, played by Cara Pond, hates children and enjoys new punishments for those who won’t follow her rules.

The show is high-energy with many dance numbers and captivating songs from the local middle school youth.

The C. L. Hoover Opera House is located at 135 W. 7th St. in Junction City. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 19, with the performance beginning at 7 p.m.

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