SMITHFIELD – Local theater company J-DAPA is opening its doors for the first time since the pandemic began and continuing its presentation of “Matilda the Musical” from Thursday, June 16, through Saturday, June 18.

Director Donna Tellier said March 13, 2020, is a day she will never forget. J-DAPA, a Smithfield-based nonprofit that teaches theater and dance education to Rhode Island and Massachusetts communities, was asked to leave its performance space at Johnston High School due to safety reasons.

Alexis Guglielmo of J-DAPA said “Matilda the Musical” was originally slated to be performed in May of 2020, but COVID had other plans for the world. The company fell on hard times and found itself with no income, no premises and no performers during the pandemic, Guglielmo said.

Now, two years later, J-DAPA is returning to the stage to perform “Matilda the Musical” at Johnston High School, 345 Cherry Hill Road. She said cast members changed, and the ones who stayed are a little older, but the show is back on.

“Finally getting to use the costumes, sets, props and scripts is a feeling I can’t explain,” Tellier said.

“In the past two years, we’ve lost so many student and staff members that it was almost like starting new this October, as the majority of our members are new,” Guglielmo said.

Through it all, J-DAPA was able to keep prices low and theater accessible to everyone, as it is what J-DAPA was founded on, Guglielmo said.

“Somehow, we’ve been able to rise above and keep our heads above water over the past two years and we’re proud of how far we’ve come,” she said.

To buy tickets, go to www.j-dapa.org.

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