Are you as excited as we are about the premiere of ‘Matilda: The Musical’ at Marina Bay Sands? We sat down with the show’s young star to learn more about how she ended up in the spotlight
Any Roald Dahl fans out there? We’ve been eagerly anticipating the Singapore premiere of Matilda: The Musical, which took the theatre world by storm from the moment it debuted in 2011, racking up awards and delighting audiences young and old all over the globe. Naturally, we jumped at the chance to interview 9-year-old Sofia Poston, one of four young actresses who will take turns starring as the title character (while Sofia is half-Singaporean and half-British and has grown up here, the other three are from South Africa. So she’s our homegrown hero!). We talked to Sofia, who attends UWC South East Asia, about what it was like winning the role, along with her path to theatre stardom (aspiring stage mamas and theatre kids, take note!). Prepare to be charmed, mama!
How long have you been involved with theatre for? How long have you been taking singing lessons?
My mummy says I found my voice just before I turned 5 years old. I first performed solo, singing “It’s a hard knock life” from the musical Annie in my school’s performers’ assembly when I was in K2. My mummy helped me with the lyrics. After that, I knew I wanted to sing, act and dance – which is called ‘Triple Threat” – as I just love the feeling of being on stage.
Every week I attend drama classes at Centre Stage School of the Arts, which is great! In addition, I am learning ballet.
I’ve also attended lots of musical theatre workshops conducted by Anton Luitigh and Duane Alexander from Luitigh Alexander Musical Theatre Academy (LAMTA), who were brought in by Base Entertainment Asia.
Had you ever read Matilda before auditioning for the show?
Yes, I had. In fact I have read it a few times and listened to the audio book in our car many times!
How long did the audition process take?
I was shortlisted based on Anton and Duane’s experience with me in the musical, Evita. I was part of the team of children for the show, who were all selected based on an audition process over 2-3 days. I was then asked to send a tape of me singing two songs from Matilda– “Naughty” and Quiet”, plus a monologue. That didn’t take long. Waiting to find out if I got the role took forever, though!
How do you balance your schoolwork with your Matilda commitments?
Before I left for South Africa, my mummy and daddy met my teachers. They talked about how to help me while I was away for Matilda. When I am travelling, I share a tutor with the rest of the children cast members. When I am back in Singapore, my teacher helps me a lot. She sometimes pulls me aside to make sure I’m not behind. Then I go home and revise with my mummy. My sister Tara helps me at home, too. She is in Grade 5.
While I was in Cape Town, we explored the city to learn about the people and their culture, food and history. We met an Uber driver who spoke Malay; that’s when I learned about the Cape Malays. My mummy (who is Singaporean) was excited to find Malay curry in Cape Town as she was missing her local hawker food!
We also visited Robben Island to learn about Nelson Mandela. I used Keynote to put together pictures and things I learn about South Africa. I plan to do that with all the countries I will travel to for Matilda.
What is your all-time favourite show? If you could be in any musical, which one would it be (and which role would you play)?
Matilda of course! I would also like to play Annie. Also, someone should make “Moana the Musical” or “The BFG” – then I would love to play Moana and Sophie. They don’t have female giants and I am way too short, anyway!
What advice do you have for other kids who love theatre and want to pursue it professionally?
Believe in yourself; mistakes are good for you as you can learn from them. At home we say “Practice makes progress”. Get your mummy and daddy to support you, that’s important. I lock myself in my room to rehearse on my own and then practice it in front of my family. That really helps.
Thanks so much, Sofia! We can’t wait to catch you on stage. Break a leg!