Central High School

The talented Champaign Central students involved in this week’s production of “Matilda” won’t be the only stars of the show.

Decker Theatre is a big draw, too.

Thursday marks the first drama to play out on a stage unlike any other high school in downstate Illinois.

“It’s not Krannert,” Principal Joe Williams said. “But when you walk in, it feels very much like you’re in a professional theater.”

Last month’s band and choir concert revealed the potential of Decker’s just-finished look, part of Central’s $104.5 expansion and renovation. “Matilda” will, too, director LaDonna Wilson said, citing everything from top-tier lighting to a catwalk to acoustics to 300 more seats to a pulley system that will have students “flying all over the place.”

“We’ve always had the talent, just not the technical support,” she said. “Now we can showcase it in a beautiful way.”

Shows are at 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, with tickets available at the door. We’ll have more in Thursday’s High School Confidential section.

Several Maroons involved in “Matilda” provided a tease during Friday’s “Penny For Your Thoughts” on WDWS (podcast available at news-gazette.com).

“I liked the old theater because it had character and history but it was definitely time for an upgrade,” said senior Ellis Mansfield, who plays Matilda. “We can do so much more now.”