#52. Cambridge Theatre in London presents Roald Dahl’s MATILDA THE MUSICAL. Matilda is different. She’s a little girl with a large brain. Her parents ignore her. Her teacher adores her. When Matilda realizes she has achieved mental telepathy, she goes after the school bully, Agatha Trunchbull. Trunchbull hates everyone. Oh and besides being the campus oppressor, Trunchbull is also the principal. It’s time to teach someone a lesson and Matilda is just the girl to do it. MATILDA THE MUSICAL spells e-x-t-r-a-o-r-d-i-n-a-r-y!
Having seen and loved the movie “Matilda,” I anticipated being enchanted. The hero is a little girl. She fights against meanness. Adding music to an already wondrous story is s-m-a-r-t! Based on Roald Dahl’s novel, Dennis Kelly wrote the script. There is additional depth in the play that isn’t in the movie. A story told by Matilda to the librarian actual comes true. It makes the connection between student and teacher even more poignant. And then there is the music. Composer Tim Minchin wrote memorable tunes like ‘When I grow up’. The number is performed by the talented cast of kids and adults playing kids. The choreography by Peter Darling (of “Billy Elliot” fame) captivates with the kids actually swinging on stage. It’s just playfully sweet! And they swing high. No harnesses. (I can’t help but think when it comes to the U.S. -and it has to come- this will be altered by unions in a country that is quick to sue.) The classroom chorus is an energetic, kick-ass ensemble. They harmonize and homogenize with some Darling movements.
The lead of Matilda is being played by four different girls. At our performance, we were spellbound by Cleo Demetriou. Demetriou is a shiny-faced, precocious charmer. She belts out a solo like a diva powerhouse and finishes the show with a kid-version cartwheel. Her teacher, Lauren Ward (Miss Honey) sings with an earnest, soul searching voice. An entrancing Ward delivers truly inspirational contemplation. The villain of the show is hysterical! Dressed in drag, Bertie Carvel (Trunchbull) is outstanding at being rotten. Carvel’s facial expressions get ongoing side-splitting laughter responses.
Upon arrival, I’m bewitched by the set. Scrabble like letters are everywhere. Words appear sideways and long ways and all ways. Rob Howell (set and costumes) and Hugh Vanstone (lighting) create a stage where magic happens. I wouldn’t wait for it to come The States. See MATILDA THE MUSICAL swinging to the rafters in the West End. It’s perfect London magic for kids and adults playing kids.
A man who will travel for a good musical, Shawn describes it with ‘bloody brilliant show.’
Running Time: Two hours and thirty minutes include an intermission
At Cambridge Theatre in London, 32-34 Earlham Street
Based on the novel “Maltilda” by Roald Dahl
Book by Dennis Kelly
Music and Lyrics by Tim Minchin
Directed by Matthew Warchus