A multi-award winning musical full of laughter, sillyness and magic. I have seen the musical three times now, each with a different cast, and have walked out delighted and full of joy each time.
The musical is based on Roald Dahl’s book Matilda. The arc of the story stays true to the original but it has some wonderful deviations from the book, including a sweet back story for Miss Honey, some elaborate story telling and some Russian mafia. The story is of Matilda Wormwood the child who is able to read Dostoyevsky and speak Russian by five but has misfortune of being born to parents who would rather she were watching telly, like her brother, or born a boy. Her father, Mr Wormwood, is a dodgy second-hand car salesman while Mrs Wormwood enjoys Latin American dancing. When Matilda goes to school she surprises her teacher Miss Honey with her mathematical skills but does not impress the child-hating headmistress and former hammer-thrower Miss Trunchbull.
The play is captivating and humorous from the beginning with intelligent songs and witty lines. It begins with Miracle where the children sing about how “My mummy says I’m a miracle” and how special they are, except Matilda who’s mummy says she’s a “lousy little worm” and a “good case for population control”. The play has some great up beat songs that include a large amount of the cast, including Miracle, When I grow up and Naughty. However, this is juxtaposed with some slow individual songs like This Little Girl and Quiet which are hauntingly beautiful. You can easily spot the people on the train home who have seen this musical as they will absentmindedly be humming the songs to themselves. I have also caught myself on various occasions singing the songs out loud, especially Revolting Children.
As many of the cast are children, they change around the cast regularly, which I imagine is a nightmare for rehearsals. However, each time I have seen the musical it has been exceptional with every person being extremely professional, giving it their all, hitting every note and perfect choreography. Played by a male, currently Craige Els, the terrifying headmistress is one of my favourite characters. Despite towering over everyone and screaching awful teaching pedagogy such as “to teach the child, we must first break the child” they provide a lot of laughter. The gym scene was a particular audience favourite. Although I liked her, Miss Honey was my least favourite character as I found her too timid and I grew a little tired of her singing.
The stage for the play was gorgeous with tile pieces, like from scrabble, all around the stage. I enjoyed finding lots of words hidden during the interval. Throughout the songs, various props were brought on, using the whole stage, including height. Highlights include the wall (picture below) and swings! The transitions between the acts and songs were all seamless, which couldn’t have been easy.
Matilda is, in my opinion, one of the best performances in the West End at present and easily ranks in my top three favourite musicals. With fantastic acting, catchy songs and a gorgeous set, it is a must see. And if you pass up an opportunity to see it, then you need to be sent to The Chokey.
All photos taken from: http://uk.matildathemusical.com/