Our audiences have been loving Matilda so far, and a huge part of that is thanks to Emiko Dunn, the ten-year-old star who plays Matilda and carries the show. We are so lucky to have such a professional, talented, and bright force at the center of this production. Emiko’s joy and enthusiasm are inexhaustible and she is adored by all members of the Matilda cast and crew. Take a moment to read this interview with Emiko!
When did your love of theatre begin? What was your first professional production?
My love of theatre began when I was 5 years old (I am 10 now). That’s when I started a class called Broadway Babies at Seven Star School of Performing Arts (SSSPA) in Brewster, NY. The first song I sang and danced to in the recital was “Good Morning Baltimore.” I knew then that I wanted to keep singing and dancing on stage. The first show I ever saw on Broadway was The Play That Goes Wrong in October, 2017. It was so funny!!
My first professional production was as part of the children’s ensemble in Evita at ACT of Connecticut in October 2018. This was also my first show with adult actors. Each group of children only performed 4 shows for one week.
Matilda has been a dream role of yours. Can you talk a bit about when that started and how this process has been for you now?
I fell in love with the character Matilda when I was 6 years old. I sang “When I Grow Up / Naughty” during my SSSPA recital. I loved the song and the choreography we did. We sang on top of school desks. After that I asked my mom to download the soundtrack, and I listened to it A LOT! I never got to see Matilda on Broadway because I was too scared at the time of loud noises!
I can’t believe that I get to be Matilda at Olney Theatre Center! It is really a dream come true. I love working with everyone. They are so talented and kind. I especially like working with Mr. Peter [Flynn], the director, because he has a great sense of humor, and he has given me such great advice not just for the show but for my theatre acting in general.
What is exciting and/or challenging about this role?
I love the fact that I am very much like Matilda. I also love reading books, and I stick up for my friends. Sometimes I can be a little bit sneaky too. I love that this Matilda gets to wear pants and have crazy hair, just like me!
It was very hard to learn Russian for the role. I didn’t think I would be able to do it. I was happy that I could listen to a recording of someone saying my lines, but it was super-fast. Now this scene is one of my favorite parts of the show because people are so surprised when I speak Russian. I love the reaction!
You're from New York. How has the change of scenery been? What is special about working with the DC community?
Actually, Olney is very similar to Brewster, NY where I live. Brewster is about one and a half hours north of New York City. I love staying at the house because I can ride my scooter and go to the park with my mom. There are so many cool parks near the theatre!
I’m so lucky to work with adults and kids who have done many shows in DC. From the minute I met them, everyone has been super nice and helpful. The cast is so talented! I hope I get to work with some of them again.
What do you do for fun when you aren't performing?
I love amusement parks so we go to Six Flags America a lot. I grew one inch since I moved down here so now I can ride all of the roller coasters! I also like going to the park and exploring DC and Baltimore. On Monday nights, I also go into DC to take a tap class because I miss tapping so much!
What is your next dream role?
Being Matilda is a dream come true! I would also love to be Young Elsa in Frozen or Summer Hathaway in School of Rock (although the Broadway show and tour ended).