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CFA Support Propels Community Theater to Award

CFA Support Propels Community Theater to Award

When cast and crew drama puts a Wilmington youth play in trouble, Cape Fear Academy faculty, students, and alumni join the production to put on an award-winning show.

In the spring of 2022, CFA Drama Director Jennifer Avery was asked to take on the Snow Productions show of “Matilda,” a community youth musical that was in a bit of chaos. Two directors had abandoned it, much of the cast dropped out, and the opening date was now several months delayed. 

Though Avery was looking forward to a much needed breather at the end of a very busy CFA theater season, she said yes for two reasons: one, she learned about the opportunity from a current CFA family that is very involved with the arts both at school and in the Wilmington community; and two, Avery was thrilled at the chance to work with choreographer extraordinaire and “all around awesome human” Judy Greenhut.

When Avery came on board, there was a lot of work to be done and major problems to fix before even starting to rebuild the show. Thankfully, she had the strength and depth of CFA’s award-winning theater program behind her as alumni and current students jumped in to help!

A slideshow of photos of CFA students and alumni in the "Matilda" youth musical

The cast still needed a major character, Mr. Wormwood, so graduating senior Dalton Mitchell (Class of 2022) stepped into this role. Graduating senior Cameron Toler (Class of 2022) was hired as the Lighting Designer, and brought Davis Kranchalk (Class of 2021) on board as Master Electrician to help hang lights. Charlie Murtha (Class of 2021) was home for the summer and joined as Avery’s Assistant Director. The production lacked stagehands, so Murtha and CFA student Jenny Carerra (Class of 2023) joined the crew. Jenny became a vital member of the crew, directing the backstage volunteers in a leadership position that would typically be the role of the stage manager. 

Together, the cast and crew of “Matilda” pulled together a delightful show that opened in June 2022. Little did they know that closing night would not be the end of the show’s good news. “I had no idea at the time that we might end up in consideration for any kind of award,” remembers Avery. But in March 2023, the Wilmington Theater Awards returned after a multi-year hiatus due to the COVID pandemic. In a competition that covered three years worth of community theater, “Matilda” was nominated for — and won! — Outstanding Youth Theater Production.

Looking back, Avery recalls feeling so proud of all of them, and especially the CFA participants! “They certainly represented our school not only with their talent and knowledge, but with kindness, maturity, optimism, and professionalism,” she says. “I was grateful we got to share that experience together.”

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