'Matilda the Musical' opens at the Andria Theatre March 9

The show stars 10-year-old Lillian Graf as Matilda.

Matilda 1212.jpg
The cast of the upcoming production of "Matilda the Musical" rehearse "When I Grow Up," on stage at the Andria Theatre in Alexandria on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023.
Celeste Edenloff / Alexandria Echo Press

ALEXANDRIA — When Lillian Graf auditioned for “Matilda the Musical” at the Andria Theatre , Director Donna Magnuson said she was a nervous, anxious, somewhat frightened little girl who shook it off, stood up, faced her fears and did what she needed to do.

Magnuson said she knew Graf would be the perfect Matilda.

“Matilda the Musical” will take to the stage of the Andria Theatre next Thursday, March 9. The show, according to Magnuson, is the story of a little girl who was born to parents who didn’t want her. But Matilda is determined to make it on her own. Along the way, while helping others, Matilda musters up a lot of courage to step out of her comfort zone. One person she helps is her teacher, Miss Honey.

Magnuson said Matilda helps Miss Honey “find her inner person.”

Donna Magnuson

In preparation for her director role, Magnuson said she reread the original book to help refresh her on the characters. She knew “Matilda” the movie, but wanted to read the book because she knew it would help when it came to casting.


Because of the great auditions, Magnuson said it was hard to cast for the show. There are a lot of fun, great people, she said, noting that about a quarter of the cast members are new to the Andria Theatre.

“We love inviting people into the theater family,” said Magnuson. “Theater family is a family without drama. The drama is left for the stage!”

Magnuson hopes people enjoy the show because it is “so entertaining.” She hopes people walk out with lots of smiles on their faces and her hope is that people walk out and decide that they want to be a Matilda, too.

She’s a fun girl

Graf, the 10-year-old from Alexandria, is the daughter of Adam and Samantha Graf. She is a fifth-grader who attends Lincoln Elementary School.

And, she is super excited to be playing the role of Matilda.

“It’s fun and I can get to dance and sing and there’s lots of music,” she said.

Graf described Matilda as a fun girl who is trapped by her parents but who decides to get out on her own and help people. She helps her teacher, Miss Honey, who she said is also her friend.

Matilda 1229.jpg
Lillian Graf, 10, of Alexandria stars as Matilda in the Andria Theatre's production of "Matilda the Musical." The show opens on Thursday, March 9, 2023.
Celeste Edenloff / Alexandria Echo Press

Going into the auditions, Graf said she tried out specifically for the role of Matilda, but that it didn’t matter if she got it or not.


“I just wanted to at least try,” she said, noting that she likes the theater because it’s fun.

Graf shared that her favorite song in the show is “Naughty” because it’s fun and jumpy.

“And I get to change my expressions on my face,” she added.

As for why she thinks people should see the show, Graf said because it is a fun play to watch and that it can make people happy, mad and sad all at the same time.

‘Minnesota nice’

When Kevin Rizo was driving some friends to the movie theater, he noticed that there were auditions being held for “Matilda.” He hurried up, dropped them off so that he could make it back to the Andria.

Rizo, who works at Alexandria Industries, recently moved to the area from Puerto Rico. A friend of his wanted to move here so Rizo moved with him.

“It’s so cold,” he said, noting that this is the first time he has ever seen snow. He also noted that he was a volunteer at Alexandria Industries Fishing For the Cure ice fishing tournament. “I didn’t know you could walk on the lake,” he said.

Matilda 1240.jpg
Kevin Rizo, who recently moved to Alexandria from Puerto Rico, stars as Rudolpho in "Matilda the Musical." The show opens at the Andria Theatre on Thursday, March 9, 2023.
Celeste Edenloff / Alexandria Echo Press

Being on stage isn’t new to Rizo as he was in “Alice in Wonderland” while in high school. He admitted though, that he was nervous about auditioning and that because he didn’t really have anything prepared, he sang in Spanish during his audition.


“I had high hopes I would get a part,” said Rizo. “I had to take the risk because if I don’t try, I don’t know if I can do it.”

He said he was excited when the call came in three days after his audition that he would be playing the role of Rudolpho, who he described as dynamic, fun and spontaneous.

Rizo also shared how everyone at the Andria Theatre received him with their arms wide open.

“They said welcome and that it was a pleasure having me,” he said. “It felt good and positive. Everyone is friendly and everyone is so ‘Minnesota Nice.’ ”

Matilda 1219.jpg
The cast of the upcoming production of "Matilda the Musical" rehearse "When I Grow Up," on stage at the Andria Theatre in Alexandria on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023.
Celeste Edenloff / Alexandria Echo Press


Matilda Wormwood – Lillian Graf
Mr. Wormwood – Patrick Sieve
Mrs. Wormwood – Leah Drexler
Michael Wormwood – Jayme O’Brien
Miss Agatha Trunchbull – David Christman
Miss Honey – Lizzy Thill
Mrs. Phelps – Cathy Snyder
Bruce Bogtrotter – Jordan Van Scoik
Lavender – Willow Zavadil
Amanda Thripp – Brielle Elmer
Alice – Addy Auran
Hortensia – Olivia Reilly
Eric – Brayden Zollner
Nigel Hicks – Luke Hodges
Tommy – Kyler Andreasen
Little Kids – Ronni Grey Popp, Oliver Yanke and Claire Eken
Big Kids – Brady Haabala, Jonas Larson, Lucy Gustafson, Adeline Hunter, Lucy Bertram and Abby Faber
Escapologist – Tai Auran
Acrobat – Parker Zwach
Rudolpho – Kevin Rizo
Doctor – Adam Hammer
Children Entertainer – Kevin Bienias
Sergei – Kiley Ramstorf
Cook – Tanya Hammer
Ensemble – Dina Shea, Joel Dahlheimer, Kaitlyn Pederson and Ruth Blom


Director – Donna Magnuson
Assistant director – Maryn Cabinaw
Music director – Ruth Blom
Music assistant – Greg Raether
Choreographer – Christine Reilly
Assistant choreographer – Nicole Warner
Set design/construction – Greg Bohl
Lighting design/tech – Maryn Cabinaw
Costume design/construction – Molly Eken
Hair and make-up – Analea Sheets
Props mistress – Hilary Ninman
Stage manager – Ailee Velazquez
Assistant stage manager – Anna Borgenheimer
Assistant stage manager – Braeden Jaeger
Soundtracks – Brody Uhlenkamp
Sound effects/video – Holly Wallerich

If you go

WHAT: Roald Dahl’s “Matilda the Musical”
WHEN: March 9 through March 11 and March 16 through March 18 at 7 p.m. and March 11, 12 and 19 at 2 p.m.
WHERE: Andria Theatre, 618 Broadway St., Alexandria
TICKETS: Go to or call the box office at 320-762-8300.

Celeste Edenloff is the special projects editor and a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. She has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in 2016 to once again report on the community she calls home.
What To Read Next
Get Local