Singaporean is one of four actresses playing Matilda

Singaporean Sofia Poston will take centre stage in Matilda The Musical, the story of a smart, plucky girl who loves to read.

The nine-year-old pupil at United World College of South East Asia is one of four young actresses playing Matilda in the award-winning musical – inspired by Roald Dahl’s story of the same name – which makes its Singapore debut on Feb 21.

Landing the lead role happened by chance. She was spotted by Matilda’s creative team when she took on a small role in the musical Evita, which ran in Singapore last year. It asked her to submit recordings of herself performing songs from the musical – and not long after, she was offered the role.

“I know the feeling of having a big audience watching me. It’s fun and nerve-racking at the same time,” says Sofia, with a nod to her experience performing in Evita.

She was speaking to The Straits Times after eight weeks of rehearsals in Cape Town where Matilda last ran.

“I got very nervous (before the first rehearsal of Matilda), but I told myself I should believe in myself and do the best I can do… Grandma said, imagine everybody in the audience is sitting on the toilet.”

The other three girls who will play Matilda on different days are South Africans Lilla Fleischmann, 14, Morgan Santo, 11, and Kitty Harris, 10.

Sofia’s dream of performing on stage began when she saw Annie the musical at the age of five.

She started going for classes at the Centre Stage School of the Arts and joined the Singapore Symphony Children’s Choir.

Like Matilda, Sofia loves to read and some of her favourite books are Dahl’s Matilda, Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden and Chris Colfer’s The Land Of Stories.

“My favourite song (in the musical) is Naughty, because you sometimes have to be a little bit naughty,” she says with a grin. “Matilda and I are both a little bit naughty, but our parents are completely different – the exact opposite.”

Her parents are Mr Graham Poston, 46, a senior partner at a leadership advisory firm, and Mrs Haryati Poston, 46, executive director of a non-governmental organisation that supports coastal communities.

Unlike Matilda’s parents, who neglect their daughter, Sofia’s parents are very much involved in her life and supportive of her theatre pursuits.

Aside from weeks of rehearsals in Cape Town, the actress, who will follow the production to China after Singapore, also has rehearsals over Skype and does 100 sit-ups a day. “There are a lot of hard (dance) moves (in the musical), they are very sharp… If I don’t keep fit, the moves will seem harder each time.”

It has been a lot of work, but Sofia, whose goal is to excel at singing, acting and dancing, is unfazed.

“I want to be an actress,” she says. “A triple-threat.”