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April 19, 2004

Matilda's magic coming to Cambridge on Wednesday

From: Zanesville Times Recorder, OH - Apr 19, 2004

Staff Writer

CAMBRIDGE -- She's young, she's mischievous and she's pure magic.

Now, Matilda's coming to the Cambridge stage to enchant children and adults alike.

The Cleveland SIGNSTAGE Theatre will feature the play "Matilda" on Wednesday, at the Pritchard Laughlin Civic Center in Cambridge. The production is based on the book by Roald Dahl, who wrote "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," which was shown last year at the civic center by the same company.

Lauren France teaches hearing impaired children in the Zanesville City Schools district. Last year, she took her students to watch "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." This year, she plans to take the entire hearing impaired program in the district -- totaling about 55 children -- to watch "Matilda." She said the performance by Cleveland SIGNSTAGE Theatre is excellent.

"The kids (in the program) don't get the opportunity to see deaf adults -- most of them are born to hearing parents," she said. "This is a really good opportunity for them."

She also said hearing children get the opportunity to be exposed to American Sign Language.

"It was especially interesting to see both the signing and the spoken text together, giving the show a definite visual impact," said Caroline Pierson, publicity manager for the Civic Center theatre productions. "It also gives students the opportunity to learn about signing and how it can be such an important means of communication. And, of course, the story is so much fun."

The main character in the play, "Matilda," is a young girl who is well-mannered, intelligent and not really loved by her swindling parents. Discovering she has magical powers, Matilda uses her abilities to deal with her evil school mistress and bring back her favorite teacher, Miss Honey.

Pierson said the show is appropriate for all age groups, though it's geared toward grade school-age children. The show lasts for about an hour.

Children will also enjoy a kid-friendly buffet of hot dogs, chicken fingers and macaroni and cheese, which will be served before the show starts.

According to the company's press release, the Cleveland SIGNSTAGE Theatre (formerly Fairmount Theatre of the Deaf) was founded in 1975 by two actors, one of whom was deaf. Its productions combine American Sign Language with "the imagination of the mime and the richness of theatrical text ... "

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