I’m sure everyone has heard of Matilda? Whether it is the 1988 Roald Dahl book or the legendary 1996 film starring Danny DeVito and Pam Ferris, which was one of my favourite films going up as a child! And since 2011, Matilda “the Musical” has been playing at the Cambridge Theatre in London’s West End which is where I got the chance to see the show!
For those of you who are unaware of the story of Matilda, I will explain in a few sentences to give you the gist. . . . . Matilda is a 5-year-old girl who is wise beyond her years, loves to read and has the gift of telekinesis.
Matilda is the daughter of Mr and Mrs Wormwood who are crude, unloving cheats who do not care for Matilda or see her true potential!
Matilda starts school in hope to get away from her unloving parents; however she is faced with her evil principal Agatha Trunchbull who is a terrifying bully! Matilda finds solace in one of her teachers Miss Honey and her friends who she begins to defend from Trunchbull’s wrath and fights back against her unkind parents for a better life.
I absolutely love the film, so was excited and nervous to see the musical as I didn’t want it to ruin the story of Matilda for me and I’m pleased to say it didn’t! The musical was truly fantastic and the music and lyrics by Tim Minchin are perfect! Obviously the book and film have no songs, so for Dennis Kelly to adapt the book into a musical was a true feat which in my opinion totally works!
The starring role of Matilda was played by Alex Munden, and this was her West End debut! I think I was sitting near some of her family/friends and they were going wild for her! Rightly so as she did an incredible job! Some of the songs Munden had to sing were very full on and wordy! I don’t know how she manages to remember all the lines but she did and was terrific!
I was so looking forward to seeing who was going to play Miss Trunchbull, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed as Elliot Harper who plays the role was perfect! The role is very panto and funny which worked perfectly for this musical! The perfect timing and vacant facial expressions from Harper were hilarious!
Miss Honey, Matilda’s kind-hearted, sweet and motherly teacher was played by Gina Beck and is very similar to the character in the film. I love the fact some of the scenes from the film are in the musical, 1 being the classic scene where Miss Honey is asking her pupils to multiply simple math which Matilda can do, then gives her a sum which no 5 year old should know, but Matilda does! That’s when she notices how extraordinary she is! Beck did a fantastic job, and I loved the original song “Knock on the Door” which she sings.
From memory as I haven’t seen the film for a while, I recall there being a lady in the library which Matilda used to see, but in the musical this role is a little more involved. Matilda visits the library daily, which is where Mrs Phelps works played by Landi Oshinowo who is hilarious in her scenes in the musical, as Matilda is telling her a story throughout (so Matilda kind of narrates the musical) it’s all done in a very clever way!
Mr and Mrs Wormwood are played by Sebastien Torkiaand and Marianne Benedict were both fantastic! Benedict really made me laugh during her scenes with Matt Krzan who plays Rudolpho her Latin ballroom dance partner!
“The Chokey” in the 96 film used to scare me as a child! In the film it’s a very tall but narrow cupboard filled with broken glass sticking out in the walls and nails on the door, which is where Miss Trunchbull would put the pupils she felt were being naughty! I wasn’t sure how they were going to show this on stage, but with some light trickery and creaking door sounds they managed to make it look like the whole audience were in the chokey! I thought it was a great representation of the Chokey as having a small cupboard on the stage wouldn’t have given the same effect.
I would have liked to have seen a bit more telekinesis; the film has a lot more “magic”, and after watching Harry Potter & the Cursed Child on stage, I know what kind of tricks can be done on stage! But don’t let this put you off! I am just being picky, as there were no bad points at all!
The Cambridge theatre is great, and it’s only a short walk from Covent Garden tube station. Click HERE to book your tickets now! Shows are on Tuesday – Saturday at 7pm and matinee performances Wednesdays at 2pm and Saturdays at 2.30pm. Let me know your favourite song! Mine is Revolting Children!