Matilda - June 04 - June 20, 2021

Highlands Lakeside Theatre

 Director's Note 

     As a teacher, one of my great joys is reading. Roald Dahl has always been a favorite children’s  author of mine. His stories are often entertaining, with twists and turns, and magic, even if they do contain a little darkness at times.  His protagonists are often children, who overcome obstacles and have to deal with evil adults. He favors kindhearted characters who love to help others. I was very drawn to this musical and the tenacity of the main character,  She loves to learn, wants to help others, and is empowered to ‘change her story’. 

     This production has been a labor of love. A lot of ‘magic’ happens on this stage and I would not have been able to make it happen alone.  First I need to thank Csaba Szilagyi of Circus Arts in Polk City for loaning us the vaulting trampoline. It is a really cool part of our show that would not have been possible without their generosity. I also want to thank the Hucke family at Advanced Door Concepts for cutting out, assembling, and giving us an excellent deal on the wood for the desks and the Matilda letters for the proscenium. I also need to give a shout out to Florence Little Theatre in South Carolina for sending us their desk blueprints. They saved us hours of work! Special thanks to Bob and Brenda Hippchen for constructing the specialty bathroom. Gary and Jackie Johnson are responsible for the remarkable swing set you will see in Act 2. They donated their talents and energy to make my vision a reality, along with volunteering to help with anything else I needed. 

     I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you about my amazing production team. I like to refer to them as The Dream Team!  My whimsical set is a result of a lot of work from our cast and crew, but especially my set artist Hannah Summer who hand painted every single block, and most of the scrabble letters. Jen Westergom not only took the lead on choreography, but helped me design my set and created my fun book walls, helped design my sound, and just generally helped me whenever I needed her. Thanks to Joe LaCotti, Mike McMillian, Kevin Hacker, Tom Staik, and Rick Donahue who came to every set construction and did whatever I needed. Rhonda Wilson, Tanya Turner, and Amanda Mercer helped me with props and specialty props to make the magic happen on stage. Kris Juve, Rachel Moore, and Elianna Hagen designed beautiful and memorable costumes. In addition, Rachel helped me with any and every idea I came up with, including props, the bulletin boards in the auditorium, and numerous other things too many to mention! Lyric Moore also assisted with each set construction and designed specialty labels and art for many of the props. Thor Knutson, Bob Jarvis, and Mac Byron spent days helping to hang and design lights, and help me with specialty projection. Jen Westergom and Cassady Hitt designed and taught all of the AMAZING choreography throughout the show. I can’t thank them enough for their hard work in helping me achieve the vision I had for this show. Nelly Ford and Christi Hagen did a brilliant job teaching some very challenging music to our very talented cast. They also stayed on with me to work on sound through the run of the show. I could not have done this without their time and talents.  I have an amazing production coordinator in Tom Staik who helps me with anything I need help with, and was definitely a shoulder to lean on when things got tough! My brilliant friend Laura Wade rounds out my Dream Team as my assistant director. I cannot say enough about how much I have learned from her over that past two decades, and I cherish our friendship and creative partnership.

     The magic would never happen without my stage manager and backstage crew. I need to thank Rhonda Wilson (my stage manager), Steve Hagen (ropes) and all my other crew members, dressers, make up and hair artists, and technicians. Without you, we would not be able to have a show! I want to thank the parents of the younger cast members for making this time commitment to the show, helping us when needed, and trusting us with your children. You have been rockstars! 

     I want to thank my husband, David, and our two children, Harper and Grant, for supporting me in all I do at the theatre. I love you all. 

     Last but certainly not least, I need to thank my brilliantly talented cast. I honestly could not ask for a harder working, more talented group of performers. You beautifully portray this story, and I am so excited to watch you share it with the community. Enjoy all the applause!! 

     Thank you, dear patrons, for supporting the performing arts in Highlands County! I truly hope you enjoy our production of Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical. 


Love and Light,


Tracy Schuknecht

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