I was lucky enough to have been invited along to review the first performance with the new 2015/16 cast of the original production of Matilda: The Musical and I was elated; I haven’t seen the show since early 2012, a matter of months after the show first opened, and I’ve been itching to get back there ever since but I just hadn’t gotten around to it. I was reminded why I wanted to be back there so badly though and that’s what I’m talking about today.
Let’s start by talking about how the show has gone from page to screen to stage and where this version of Matilda stands in comparison to the many different incarnations of this story that have come before it. I’d argue that the stage show stays much more true to the tone of the book in comparison to the film; even though the stage show is very child-friendly, it has a really dark undertone to it and makes the scary parts of the story genuinely unnerving (I actually did turn to my friend Joe during the interval and tell him how scared Miss Trunchbull made me feel...) Though the story is scary in aspects, a lot of the show is actually laugh out loud funny. The children are absolutely fantastic anyway but their comedic timing and delivery of their performance really does get everyone laughing and reminds us of what’s at the heart of this show: true joy.
The show also makes me think of how badly Tim Minchin needs to write more and more musicals and how I’m so excited for his next project, which is the Groundhog Day musical – he is a fantastic talent when it comes to writing such clever songs both lyrically and musically and every single one in the show is catchy and fun to listen to every time I turn to the cast album. It’s a score that really carries this piece that we all know and love and turns something that already felt like home into something even better.
All in all though, it is the stellar cast that make this show what it really is. Miria Parvin as Miss Honey is so heartbreaking and so funny at the appropriate moments and has the voice of an angel; every time she came onto the stage, I felt so happy to know that a fantastic performance was coming shortly. As well as Parvin’s fantastic performance, Craige Els makes an absolutely terrifying Miss Trunchbull as well as being laugh out loud funny when he needs to be. His performance of Miss Trunchbull’s main showstopping number ‘The Smell of Rebellion’ is hilarious and Craig Els takes it to another level. It’s the children of the show, though, that really make Matilda what it is. It’s unbelievable that such young people can hold such incredible talent like they do in this show and you can feel the impression from everybody in the room who is sat watching with you. Not only can they sing with perfection but it’s the funny performances that I find fantastic: Hannah Hague, who played Lavender the night I saw the show most recently, was so funny and so cheeky that it confirmed for me how talented children on stage really are.
If you haven’t seen MATILDA: THE MUSICAL at the Cambridge Theatre yet then I urge you to get down there and see it as soon as possible with this fantastic new cast. If you’ve already seen the show, tweet me @shaunycat and let me know what you thought of it and if you haven’t get your tickets yet then you can grab them at LondonTheatreDirect.com.
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