Summer Stage’s Matilda Jr. celebrates learning, intelligence, found family

Upper Darby Summer Stage invites audiences to create their own story with Matilda, Jr. With performances on July 12 and 13 at both 10:30am and 7:00pm, Matilda, Jr. tells the story of a young girl who uses her hidden power and determination to stand up to the bullies in her life and discover who she really is in this Summer Stage premiere. 

Matilda, Jr. is part of this year’s series of family-friendly, hour-long shows presented by Upper Darby Summer Stage’s Children’s Theatre program. Tickets range from $11 to $15 and may be purchased online any time at or by calling the box office at 610.814.7270 during office hours Monday through Friday from 9:00am to 4:00pm. There will be a unique pre-show craft just before each Children’s Theatre show, as well as a post-show meet-and-greet with cast members. The Upper Darby Performing Arts Center is located in Drexel Hill, at 601 North Lansdowne Avenue, just minutes from the Main Line and Center City. Parking is free. 

Upper Darby Summer Stage’s Matilda, Jr. cast members include, from left: Olivia McGowan, Ava Fitzgerald, Mehki Postell, & Inna Harris.

“Revolting Children” soar onto the stage this summer in Matilda, Jr. When Matilda Wormwood (Ava Fitzgerald of Drexel Hill) is sent to school and meets the cruel headmistress, Miss Trunchbull (Annie Thompson of Ardmore), she must use her intelligence and imagination to write a better story for herself, her friends, and her beloved teacher, Miss Honey (Olivia McGowan of Springfield). Her bravery and cleverness inspires her fellow classmates to become more confident and stand up for themselves. Matilda uses creativity to right the wrongs in her life and remind us all that courage comes in all shapes and sizes. 

Director Sarah DeNight says, “With our Matilda, we’re trying to lean into the beloved and well-known story, but we also wanted to find more opportunities for unique storytelling within it…it’s really exciting, especially in a show where it is about bullying and harshness and that edgier world where kids are taken out of their comfort zone. It’s really nice to see them supporting each other and caring for each other.” 

Throughout the rehearsal process, Matilda, Jr. cast members have taken turns writing inspirational messages in a journal that will be included in the show itself, with a quote on the inside cover that reads, “Somewhere inside all of us is the power to change the world.” This quote is at the heart of Matilda, Jr, encouraging kindness to be cultivated both on and off-stage. Cast member Rita Dobbins comments, “I think Matilda is a great musical for children to see because I think the main character serves as a great role model. The show celebrates learning, intelligence, found family, and many other strong themes that I think should be incorporated more into children’s shows.” 

Upper Darby Summer Stage is grateful to partner with Perkins Restaurant & Bakery, the sponsor of Matilda, Jr. In addition, Summer Stage would like to thank BookSmiles, who generously donated over 1,000 books to be distributed to audience members of Matilda, Jr. after the shows. Summer Stage would also like to thank its education sponsors Academy of Notre Dame de Namur, Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast High School, and The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for their support. Summer Stage 2023 is also supported through sponsor and host, Upper Darby School District, as well as founding sponsor, Upper Darby Township. Upper Darby Summer Stage is now officially a program of the not-for-profit Upper Darby Arts & Education Foundation.  

About Upper Darby Summer Stage:

Upper Darby Summer Stage is a national leader in creating outstanding performances for the community while empowering young people and entertaining families. Now in its 48th season, the program presents six Children’s Theater productions and a professional quality Broadway musical. This year’s Mainstage production is Memphis, playing five performances on July 28th & 29th, and August 4th & 5th. In addition, Summer Stage presents a smaller show through its Summer Stories program. This year’s Summer Stories production is Next to Normal, playing July 31st & August 1st.

Summer Stage offers programs for students as young as 10 and up to age 28. Upper Darby Summer Stage is not only a great place to see a spectacular show, but also a great place for students to grow as artists and as young people. Visit for more information.

Stephanie Latchford
Director of Marketing and Communications, Upper Darby Arts and Education Foundation
[email protected]

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