Profile: Allison Gaines plays the sweet Miss Honey in PTG’s “Matilda the Musical!”

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Allison Gaines has a good memory – at least for the things she liked.

“I read the novel ‘Matilda’ when I was in the third grade, and I love the movie version, too,” says Gaines. “I like the story, the music and the characters.”

This is the first year “Matilda the Musical!” has been released for schools/community theaters to perform, and when the Pioneer Theatre Guild decided to put it on its 2019-20 schedule, Gaines couldn’t wait to audition.

A junior at Pioneer High School and a veteran of PTG and other local theater companies, Gaines landed a sweet role – Miss Honey. “I like this role because of her songs, and because she is nice to the children. I also like her character development throughout the show.”

Like every role, especially the really good ones, there are challenges. And Gaines is enjoying figuring it out and meeting those challenges.

“She starts off timid and afraid of Ms. Trunchbull, but becomes more confident because of her relationship with Matilda and wanting to help her,” Gaines says. “The challenge with this role is being able to convey those feelings of insecurity, developing into confidence.”

Pioneer, the first high school in Michigan to perform “Matilda the Musical!,” will host opening night on Nov. 2 with the final performance on Nov. 10.

Matilda is the story of a special, magical little girl, who unfortunately lives with parents who don’t want or appreciate her. She is lucky enough to have a kind teacher, Miss Honey, who recognizes her gifts, but it’s hard for the teacher to help Matilda because of the mean school principal, Ms. Trunchbull, who mistreats not only the children, but also Miss Honey.

“I think the audience will enjoy the show because the songs are fun, there are many funny scenes, as well as serious ones, and it’s a great family show,” says Gaines, who confirms that rehearsals are “going great.”

“Because of our amazing creative team from the University of Michigan Musical Theatre Department taking the lead, our student cast and crew have been really professional and productive,” she says. “Everyone knows what they are doing and where they are supposed to be, which helps since we have a short amount of time to do a lot of work to be able to put on a great show for the community.”

Gaines, 16, has been helping put on great shows for a few years now. Her first time on stage was playing Dolly in “Hello Dolly” with Tappan Players in the eighth grade (above photo) and she’s loved being in shows ever since.

“My favorite part of theater is the friendships you develop working so closely with the cast and crew for so many weeks,” says Gaines, who was in the ensemble for “High School Musical” as a freshman, played Mrs. Bucket in “Willy Wonka” last fall and was in the dance ensemble for “Fame” last spring.

Allison, the daughter of Simon and Kathy Gaines, also performs well in the classroom. She has a 4.0 GPA and also is in the A Cappella Choir, Harmony and takes private voice and dance lessons.

“I plan to attend college, but right now I am still deciding where to apply and what I will study,” she says. “I enjoy theater, but I also love art and design, classical singing, law and government…so we’ll see.”

Of course, her future does include more time on stage.

“I would love to continue theater after high school, whether it is at a college level, or participating in community theater,” she says. “I have been in several plays at Encore Theatre in Dexter, which have also been great experiences.”

By Terry Jacoby