There’s a professional theatre production opening in Tucson in late December, giving you the chance to see some local and national talent.

Saguaro City Music Theatre is putting on ‘Matilda, the Musical’ starring 9-year-old Miriam Howell, a 4th grader at Ironwood Elementary School.

“It’s very high energy, and there’s a lot of stuff in it,” she said. “It’s definitely a fun character. I love telling the stories and singing the songs and just being naughty basically!”

That’s a nod to her song, “Naughty,” which she sings right after the opening number.

Matilda is only the fourth production for Saguaro City Music Theatre. It was a year ago that two of the founders moved back to Tucson, and brought with them their experience of working in inclusive theatre, with kids and adults.

“We were brought into it as performers and then later became educators within it,” explained the artistic director and one of the founders, Drew Humphrey. “And when we moved to Tucson, we wanted to not only offer more opportunity for professional musical theater to exist in this town, but also to make sure that it followed this inclusive model, where children of all abilities had a place to participate.”

Throughout their shows, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’ ‘Seussical the Musical,’ ‘Little Shop of Horrors,’ and now ‘Matilda the Musical,’ Humphrey says they’ve found a way to incorporate professional actors and designers, with kids.

“Our organization has a broad goal of providing inclusive arts education and also presenting excellent musical theater,” Huphrey said. ‘”And when we have opportunities to combine the two, we celebrate it, and Matilda is one of them.”

Matilda has a cast of 14 adults and 22 kids, with a director they brought in from Chicago. Some of the adult actors and crew members live in Tucson, others are also from out of town.

“It’s the largest production we’ve done. It’s the largest size cast. It’s the biggest band that we’ve hired. It’s one of the largest sets that we’ve designed,” Humphrey explained. “And it’s just so fun to invite so many new people into the studio to tell the story.”

Incredibly, they’re putting on these shows — start to finish — in just three weeks.

“It definitely feels fast,” Miriam said. “But I’ve been practicing a lot so I’m excited for opening night.”

Off stage, that rush also includes building the set, in even less time.

“Our build schedule is a little bit truncated on this one, but normally it’s two to three weeks of a build schedule. This one’s going to be about a week,” Humphrey said. “It was pretty industry standard to be able to put on a show in about 10 days. I like to look at it, with the talent that we hire, that we’re respecting their time.”

Outside of their shows, Saguaro City Music Theatre also has free educational programs year round for kids and teens. Humphrey hopes that between those accessible opportunities, and putting on this caliber of production, they’ll be instilling a love of theatre and community in Tucson, especially with a show like this.

“I think the the most exciting part of Matilda,” he said, “is bringing youth and professional adults into the same space and allowing what that magic is, when they work together to tell the same story. And that’s what we love about the inclusive model of musical theater, is that no matter what your barrier might be, when the common goal of the same story is introduced, everyone has an opportunity to shine and contribute.”

If you’d like to see Matilda, the show opens on Friday, December 22nd. It runs Fridays through Sundays for three weekends in a row at the Berger Performing Arts Center in midtown. You can buy tickets on their website, by clicking here.