By Emily Williams
As the 40th anniversary season for Red Mountain Theatre Company comes to a close, a familiar face will return to the stage for the final show, “Matilda the Musical.”
A Birmingham native, Elise Mayfield will grace the stage in the production, inspired by Roald Dahl’s “Matilda.” She will play the role of Matilda’s less-than-supportive mother, Mrs. Wormwood.
“It’s one of my favorite books and I still love the movie that came out in the ‘90s,” Mayfield said. “I had the pleasure of witnessing this musical on Broadway and it reminded me how much I love the story. The music is incredible, the characters are fascinating, and the staging is engaging. What more could you want?”
Mayfield grew up performing with numerous local theater companies. She spent summers in the Summerfest program, which is the former title of Red Mountain Theatre Company.
“The last production I performed in was ‘Footloose’ (one of Executive Director Keith Cromwell’s first productions), and I remember closing the show, my parents picking me up at the stage and they drove straight to my dorm room at Ole Miss, where I started college the next day,” Mayfield said.
Mayfield moved to Chicago after graduating college, where she began to hone her improvisational skills with Second City and Improv Olympic. In addition, she studied at Columbia College Chicago, earning a master’s in interdisciplinary arts.
While working as an e-learning administrator, Mayfield found herself in need of a career change. Rather than committing to a career that kept her in a cubicle. A leap of faith and a love of cooking led her to try out and become a contestant on Season 5 of MasterChef.
Her time on the show was cut short – she finished in 13th place – but a move back to Birmingham created new opportunities in the culinary world. The Homewood resident now works as the assistant food stylist and host of Smart Cookie, which is a baking website by Allrecipes.
When she isn’t working with food, she spends time performing around town with RMTC, Terrific New Theatre, Virginia-Samford Theatre and Birmingham Improv Theatre.
While Mayfield said she is excited to perform as the over-the-top Mrs. Wormwood, she is most excited to share Matilda’s message with audiences.
“Matilda is about the small triumphing over the big,” she said, adding that little doesn’t have to just mean little kids, such as the cast of kids who will join her in the performance, but the underdog rising to triumph.
“I hope the community is inspired by our amazing cast of kids and remember that even the little can overcome incredible obstacles,” she said.
The production will take place at the Alabama School of Fine Arts’ Dorothy Jemison Day Theatre and will run from July 12 to Aug. 4.
A show on July 16 at 2 p.m. will be sensory-friendly, with elements of the production modified to suit those with sensory, social and cognitive disabilities.
For more information, visit redmountaintheatre.org.