Once Lucas B. Connor heard “Miracle,” it was game on.
“The very first thing that caught my eye about ‘Matilda’ was actually the music,” says Connor, a member of the Pioneer Theatre Guild. “Miracle, which opens the show, was all I had to hear to decide that I wanted to audition for PTG’s production of it. The characters are also very interesting and different, all across the board. I was so excited to jump into this wildly unique and fun world and play whoever I could land, I was immediately hooked.”
Connor, a junior at Pioneer High School, is playing Miss Trunchbull in the upcoming Pioneer Theatre Guild’s production of “Matilda the Musical!” The musical opens Nov. 2 and runs through Nov. 10.
“Not surprisingly, but Miss Trunchbull is like no other character I’ve ever played,” says Connor. “I really enjoy pondering and playing with her morals and motivation, because she, like all great villains, have ones that the audience can somewhat understand and maybe even relate to.”
Connor says Miss Trunchbull demands respect, and believes in following the rules to become successful.
“And it cannot be denied that there is some validity to that statement, whether you agree with it or not,” he says.
He’s also enjoying finding a unique side to Miss Trunchbull – one that goes beyond gender.
“One of my favorite challenges has been creating my own version of the character, one that’s unique to myself,” he explains. “While, yes, I do play a woman, who will be addressed and identifies as a woman, I did not approach the role thinking ‘I’m playing a woman, what would a woman do in this situation.’ I approached it thinking, ‘I’m playing Miss Trunchbull, what would Miss Trunchbull do in this situation,’ which has really helped me get in tune with my character.”
Rehearsals, Connor says, have been going “absolutely tremendously!”
“It is so fun working with all these incredibly talented people, whether it’s my co-stars or the production team,” he said. “The biggest challenge for me in rehearsals has probably been bringing realism to such a wacky character but also making sure she’s still very entertaining and amusing to watch. I’m very excited to reveal to everyone my version of Miss Trunchbull.”
Matilda is a little girl with astonishing wit, intelligence and psychokinetic powers. She’s unloved by her cruel parents but impresses her schoolteacher, the highly loveable Miss Honey.
Over the course of her first term at school, Matilda and Miss Honey have a profound effect on each other’s lives, as Miss Honey begins not only to recognize but also appreciate Matilda’s extraordinary personality. Matilda’s school life isn’t completely smooth sailing, however – the school’s mean headmistress, Miss Trunchbull, hates children and just loves thinking up new punishments for those who don’t abide by her rules. But Matilda has courage and cleverness in equal amounts, and could be the school pupils’ saving grace!
“To me, ‘Matilda the Musical,’ is about the expectations society has on kids, and how that is often unfair on them,” Connor says. “It is about letting your children just be who they want to be, and not forcing unrealistic expectations on them.”
He believes the audience will enjoy the show for many reasons.
“Obviously the singing, the dancing and the acting is all great,” he said. “We have so many talented people working on this show, whether it’s onstage or off, with amazing sets being produced and costumes being sewn.
“But I believe that audiences will truly connect with this show because of the message it relays. Everyone can connect with being silenced, and everyone can connect with growing up. The line I’ve always found most beautiful in this show is from the song When I Grow Up. The line goes ‘And when I grow up… I’ll play with things that mums pretend that mums don’t think are fun.’ I find this so perfect because it captures what this show is all about. This show promotes creativity, youthfulness, and rebellion, and I think the audiences will really like that.”
Lucas, the son of Sarah Corcoran and Marcus Connor, has a 3.6 GPA and also is a member of the A Capella Ensemble Choir. He performed in his first PTG show last fall in “Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka” where he played The Candy Man and an Oompa-Loompa.
He also was in PTG’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” where he played King Oberon. He plans on auditioning for PTG’s production of “Our Town” this winter.
“I love theater because I love telling stories,” says Connor, who plans on studying theater or something in creative arts after high school. “That’s as basic as it gets. I love telling stories. I love playing characters. I believe it’s one of our key aspects of humanity. All we do as humans is tell stories, that’s why we decided to learn how to talk. I love an art form that revolves around telling stories, and I hope to be a part of that for the rest of my life.”
Connor has found his calling – and it’s game on.
“I plan on performing for the rest of my life,” he says. “I love this world that I’ve stumbled into, and I love developing and growing in it. Each and every day I learn something new about myself and this world thanks to performing arts. I’ve fallen in love, and I’m so excited to see myself grow as a performer and person because of theater.”
MAIN PHOTO: By Lindsay King