About the Show
Based off of Roald Dahl’s classic book, Matilda Wormwood is child genius trapped in a family that cares more about the television than her. While she dreams up wondrous tales and reads more book than anyone else, she finds herself at odds with the adults in her life – her foolish parents and brutal headmistress. However, her teacher Miss Honey, shows her not all adults are cruel or selfish and a sudden discovery of magical powers give Matilda hope to fuel her stories and to revolt back against her oppressors.
Why I Chose to See It
Matilda was one of my favorite books as a child (ever the bookworm, I related to her greatly and spent hours bored in my classes trying to move objects with my eyes). I was also excited about the casting – I’m a fan of China Brickey (who plays Miss Honey) and I was delighted to see the role of Miss Trunchbull (the cruel headmistress) actually cast to a woman (on Broadway it has been staged with a man in drag). I’m also a fan of Emily Gunyou Halaas so the chance to see her play the wicked Trunchbull wasn’t something I could pass down.
I think I have a new favorite musical. This show expertly combines the whimsy and darkness of Dahl’s writing along with the poignant and humorous nature of British artist Tim Minchin’s music and lyrics. Celebrating the intelligence and power of children, this musical is a delight from start to finish. Often with new musicals, I worry about the plot being diluted by large musical numbers or simplistic songs that do little to advance the piece. This musical is not like that at all – the full story is there in all its twists and turns and samplings of childhood antics. And the music is glorious – from humorous romps (starring the wonderful Dean Holt and Autumn Ness as Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood) – to nostalgic pieces like “When I Grow Up” that make me miss the simplicity of being a kid, to Miss Trunchbull’s frightening solos that feel somehow like a soliloquy by Iago or Richard the III. Perhaps most striking of all are what I consider the three female leads – Matilda, Miss Honey, and Miss Trunchbull. It’s wonderful to see such diverse examples of women portrayed on stage, from sweet and conscience (Miss Honey) to clever and bold (Matilda) to wicked and brutal (Miss Trunchbull) and so much more in between for all three. Seeing Emily Gunyou-Halaas play Trunchbull alone makes the entire show – I can’t recall seeing a performance that made me so afraid and yet also gleeful as someone who loves seeing more diverse rolls for women onstage.
Go see this show. It’s beautiful and wonderful and a giant fist pump for bibliophiles. It will make you appreciate what it takes to be a growing child (and adult) in this world. And it’s a whole lot of fun to boot.
Matilda the Musical runs through June 23. The book is by Dennis Kelly with music and lyrics by Tim Minchin and direction by Peter C. Brosius. For show and ticket information, please visit Children Theatre’s website.