A chat with the parents of Matilda

Showbiz Christchurch’s show Matilda is set to open on Friday 16 September, after a five-month delay because of Covid, and the passion and enthusiasm are as strong as ever. But it’s not just the children who’re buzzing: a year after auditions, parents will finally get to see their kids shine on stage.

We chatted with Megan Platt, whose daughter Martha (10) is playing Lavendar (who drops the newt in Trunchbull’s jug), and Rob Naysmith, whose son Flynn (13) is playing Bruce (who eats the chocolate cake), about this amazing opportunity.

Has Matilda taken over your lives? 

ROB: It is busy, because there are other children who have other interests – my daughter (Briah) is training for gymnastics three to four days a week, too. It’s the same with parents who have kids who play a lot of sport.

MEGAN: I think when you have kids in this age group you do feel like you’re a taxi driver – but it’s a privilege being a taxi driver. Yes, Matilda has become our life for an extended time now, but it’s great!

What have your children gained from this experience?

ROB: The number of benefits far outweigh the time it takes up. They’re working with industry professionals who’re at the top of their game, and the amount of education they’re getting – around etiquette, singing, drama, dancing, commitment, focus…

MEGAN: Absolutely! And adaptability – especially as we have navigated Covid. 

How much do you need to push your kids to perform at this level? 

ROB: Kids have to have passion and be intrinsically motivated. The balance is that they have to show that they want to do the dance, drama and the music because you don’t get to perform at this level without training and hard work. If they don’t want to do it, there’s no point pushing them. 

MEGAN: Martha knows her own mind – we definitely don’t push her to do this. After her singing teacher said, “you really should audition”, she presented a slide show on why she should be allowed to, and convinced us that it was just for the experience, and then she got in! I’ve had a background in directing and choreography, and her dad’s had a background in singing, music and TV work, but she has always said this is her thing!

It must be wonderful seeing (and sharing) their passion. 

MEGAN: We both love what both our kids are doing (Megan’s son Lachlan is a talented blues guitarist). Watching your children do something they excel at is the best part of being a parent. 

ROB: Back in 1989, I was one of the boys in Oliver, and it’s great to see Flynn get the same satisfaction and excitement out of it that I had. When we drive to rehearsals, we sing pretty much from Lincoln to town. Having something you can connect with your kids through is really valuable. If you can key into something they are interested in and find a way of motivating them, then it’s a great thing.

MEGAN: And let them lead, and jump on board whatever they’re interested in. 

The kids will have made some great friendships.

MEGAN: I think one of the amazing things for us has been the awesome community of like-minded children. 

ROB: Yeah, they’re a really cool bunch of kids. They’re all incredibly talented, and they all look out for one another.

For more information and ticket sales, visit showbiz.org.nz