Matilda The Musical Cast in Rehearsal

Matilda The Musical Professional Artists Discuss Collaboration with COCA Students 

Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical takes COCA stage July 22–24. The production features influential performances, high-energy dance numbers, and a story about justice performed by professional and student artists in collaboration with each other.  

We asked Matilda The Musical cast members who are also COCA staff and professional artists to share insights into what it has been like working alongside students throughout the production process. Hear from them below! 


Will Bonfiglio 

Director of COCAbiz 
Trunchbull for Matilda The Musical 

What do you hope our student artists will learn from working alongside COCA staff and professional artists for this production? 

I hope our students learn the importance of ensemble and being a team. It takes each and every one of us to work together to tell this wonderful story. Building community is such an important part of making theatre. 

Why is it so important for young artists to have opportunities to engage with professional artists? And vice versa?  

We get to learn so much from one another! I love the energy and curiosity these young people have been bringing into rehearsals! It’s so fun to see their wonder and excitement—it’s infectious. They remind me of just how magical theatre is and how lucky we are to share this moment and this opportunity together. They bring the perfect mix of professionalism and fun to the process; We get to play around and be silly while trying things and making choices in rehearsals. They all have created very specific characters and are learning so much about their characters—who they are, what their relationship is to the story, etc. These young people are the future of the theatre, and based on this amazing group of folks, I am confident that the theatre is going to be in great hands! I feel so lucky to be working alongside such incredible artists. 

What are you most looking forward to about the Matilda process?  

Rehearsal! I have always been someone who loves the theatre-making process over the product. Of course, it’s wonderful and exciting to perform the show for an audience, but my favorite part of theatre is the rehearsal process—getting to know one another and finding our characters and working together in community to figure out how to tell the story. That is so exciting to me. 

What is your advice for aspiring young theatre artists at COCA?  

Take risks and have fun! There are no right answers, so remember to stay curious—you never know what you will discover in the rehearsal room! 

Michael Tran Headshot

Michael Thanh Tran 

Marketing Fellow & COCA Teaching Artist 
Associate Director, Escapologist, Ensemble for Matilda The Musical 

What do you hope our student artists will learn from working alongside COCA staff and professional artists for this production? 

There’s a lyric in the show that best captures what I hope they learn: ‘even if you’re little, you can do a lot, you mustn’t let a thing like little stop you.’ I hope that in working alongside these student artists, they not only learn the importance, significance, and power of their voice, but that they also learn that they have the agency and autonomy to use it. Whether in a rehearsal room or within a creative collaborative process. That they are allowed to speak up and advocate for themselves, their needs, and their amazing talents.  

Why is it so important for young artists to have opportunities to engage with professional artists? And vice versa?  

By working alongside professional artists and following a professional model of rehearsal, COCA provides young artists the opportunity to experience the same thing that professional actors experience. Not only that, but with multiple professional actors in the room, young artists are able to see what processes and practices work for them and which don’t. For the adult actors in the room, there is also so much to learn from these imaginative, creative, and fearless young artists.  

What are you most looking forward to about the Matilda process?  

For me, Matilda is a story of how young people respond in the face of injustice. With everything happening in the world, what I am looking forward to most is the end of the Matilda process—I am excited to see how these amazing young artists will use the themes of this show and apply it to their own lives as they grow as individuals, artists, and activists.  

What is your advice for aspiring young theatre artists at COCA? 

I’ll give them the same advice my therapist recently gave me: Don’t strive for perfection. Strive for precision. Trust yourself and normalize being in process. 

Cameron Tyler 

Registrar & Incoming Artistic Producer 
Doctor/Rudolpho/Ensemble for Matilda The Musical 

What do you hope our student artists will learn from working alongside COCA staff and professional artists for this production? 

I hope the students will see the work that all of professionals, crew, and performers alike put into the production behind the scenes and what it takes to do this professionally. They see us leading in the classroom or during technical rehearsals for the shows they participate in, but don’t typically get to see us digging in and memorizing our lines, learning choreography, and creating the world that we present on stage! 

Why is it so important for young artists to have opportunities to engage with professional artists? And vice versa? 

Our young artists see how much work it takes and how our training has pushed us to be able to perform at the level we need to be at for each show. And as professionals, it’s important for us to see the excitement, energy, and life the students bring to each scene we rehearse. The students help revitalize our love for the art, and we see the new direction that our students will not only take theatre and dance but the world! 

What are you most looking forward to about the Matilda process? 

I am excited to be working with the students in a different capacity! They see most of us as just as teachers and forget that we are real people and working professionals. I am also excited to see how the students grow and develop. 

What is your advice for aspiring young theatre artists at COCA? 

If you can dream it, you can be it! I want them to know that no matter if they go into the arts or something completely different, they can do any and everything they set their minds to! 

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