Vikki Heywood, the Royal Shakespeare Company's executive director, has confirmed that the company has just about made back the £2.6 million investment that they put into the universally praised stage production. In a first the Royal Shakespeare Company self-produced the current incarnation of the show at the Cambridge Theatre. Matilda opened at the Courtyard Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon in December 2010 following previews the month before, for a limited run until January 2011. Such was the enthusiastic response to the show, a musical adaptation of the much-loved Roald Dahl book of the same name, that it was of little surprise when a West End transfer was announced.
Despite having some teething problems in its journey to its Cambridge Theatre debut - the first preview was delayed from 18th to the 25th October due to structural and installation difficulties - the show has gone on to be one of the hottest tickets currently in Theatreland. The show's official first night was the 24th November and the show has already picked up a Ned Sherrin Best Musical award as part of The Evening Standard Awards, as well as two Theatre Awards UK. RADA graduate Bertie Carvel's astonishing transformation into ogre-like teacher Miss Trunchbull has received particular praise.
Heywood reveals "We’ve got over £7 million of sales and advance sales. We’re nearly at the point when we can say we’ve recouped our investment and we hope to see future productions elsewhere, although we’re not ready to announce where they might be." She also added that despite many in the industry's fears about the effects of the upcoming London Olympics on theatre ticket sales that the RSC has not seen any kind of worrying knock-on effect for that period with sales for this summer's Royal Shakespeare Festival going "extremely well".
The Evening Standard said of the Stratford-upon-Avon production: "In this lovingly created show, Matilda's magic positively sparkles. There's a cleverness in the writing which ensures that, while it appeals to children, there is plenty for adults to savour…it's blissfully funny…There's a playfulness throughout that proves intoxicating." The musical adaptation is written by Dennis Kelly with orchestrations and music supervision by Chris Nightingale. It is directed by Matthew Warchus and boasts a stunning set design by Rob Howell and Paul Kieve's impressive illusions and special effects. The show has recently been extended to the 21st October 2012.
[posted by James]