WHITEFISH — Depending on your mood or general outlook, the drive from here to Bigfork can be an hour to contemplate what you could’ve done differently, or it’s an hour to think back on and process your successes.
Dylynne Cosand, 11, and her mom Jenni Cosand made this trip a while back after attending an actor’s callback for the Alpine Theatre Project’s production of “Matilda The Musical,” opening on July 7.
Dylynne had auditioned for a role in the show on the advice of Brach Thomson at the Bigfork Children’s Theater. It couldn’t hurt to audition with new people and a different theater company, to get some experience under her belt. So when she showed up and there were 75 girls auditioning for the show, Dylynne hoped she’d get a chorus role in the musical.
“Everyone was so good,” Jenni said. “We left thinking it would be good experience for her.”
They found out Dylynne had done well enough to make it to the callback, where Dylynne and other selected actors would perform a two-minute monologue from the show.
After the callback, they made the same drive back to Bigfork, and Dylynne was comfortable in the knowledge that she might get a bit part, but even that would be worth it.
“We left and she thought she wasn’t getting a part,” Jenni said.
Then the cast list went out. Well, it went out to everyone but the Cosands. Dylynne found out she earned the leading role as Matilda when a family friend called ecstatic about the cast list.
“We were, like, fingers crossed hoping for an ensemble role,” Jenni said. “We were totally shocked when she got Matilda.”
Theater wasn’t a part of the Cosand home when Dylynne was growing up. Jenni doesn’t have a history on stage, nor does her husband, Geoff Cosand. Dylynne’s twin, Cooper, plays baseball, and the family knew how to facilitate that interest, but wading into the world of theater was new for everyone.
They enrolled Dylynne in the Bigfork Summer Playhouse Children’s Theater when she was 8 years old, and she took to it like Matilda took to the library. She started earning big roles in plays, including “White Christmas,” “Pinnochio,” and “Annie.” At the theater, Dylynne found the kind of people she relates to, or to put it another way, she found her people.
“It’s a group of people who are just who they are,” Jenni said of the theater world.
The Cosands go to every show at the Bigfork Summer Playhouse, and Dylynne has met Playhouse veteran and Academy Award-winning actor J.K. Simmons twice. The first time, she ran away because she didn’t know why she had to say hello to a stranger.
“But the second time was fun,” Dylynne said.
She likes to watch people act, and she likes being on stage. When her mom auditioned for a small part in the holiday play, “Elf,” Jenni almost threw up and passed out. But when Dylynne is on stage, she feels happy. When she auditioned, she was excited and nervous, and she’s still feeling that way with the big show opening coming up.
“Matilda” is Roald Dahl’s story of a bright young girl who dreams of a better life, despite challenges from her family and surroundings. Matilda also has the power of telekinesis, which is one of the parts Dylynne is thrilled to show audiences.
“I’m super excited about the part where I move things with my eyes,” she said.
Luke Walrath, who runs ATP along with his wife and producing artistic director Betsi Morrison, said kids came from all over the region to audition for this play, including someone from Phoenix and submissions from New York. But Morrison felt strongly about trying to find someone local, Walrath said, and Dylynne “just really stood out.”
“She carries the show,” Walrath said. “It’s a lot and she’s been wonderful. Her demeanor in rehearsal, she’s holding her own. We didn’t know her before this, and there’s just something there.”
Dylynne has been plinking on pianos and singing little tunes ever since she could, and dancing around in between. She’s a bookworm who loves Harry Potter, and as a sixth grader in Bigfork, she has a bright future in the village. And by her own estimation, that future will be on stage.
“I have a lot of friends at the theater,” Dylynne said. “I feel like I fit there.”
“Matilda The Musical” opens July 7 and runs through July 20. For specific dates and times and ticket sales, visit www.atpwhitefish.org or call (406) 862-7469.