Everyone is talking about Matilda the Musical… Tim Minchin and Dennis Kelly’s hit show has just been awarded the prestigious ‘Best Musical’ prize at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards 2011, and quite rightly so. Matilda has successfully transferred to the Cambridge Theatre after a sensational run at the Courtyard Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, and is delighting the London audience, young and old. I saw the show in its original home and the move to the West End has not altered its intimacy and magic, just added West End glitz.
The audience are buried beneath the tumbling books of Rob Howell’s awesome set, it is a far cry from the sultry black setting of Chicago, the previous show at the Cambridge. Roald Dahl’s 1988 novel tells the story of an extraordinary little girl, who against all odds overcomes the hatred of her uncaring, ignorant parents and nasty headmistress using her supernatural powers to help herself and her friends. Director Matthew Warchus' vision is original and inventive - there is a particularly beautiful sequence with children on swings in the second half, that made several audience members around me gasp. My little sister beside me looked up to the stage enviously, and the second we got home she looked up the audition specifications, even I left wanting to be in the Matilda gang, it all looks like so much fun!
The whole cast are fantastic, and work together beautifully presenting a well paced, polished performance. The children are most impressive, with unbelievable confidence and self assurance, they are mesmerising - acting, singing and dancing perfectly. There are four Matildas who alternate playing the exhausting title role, I saw little Kerry Ingram, who is a sensation. She has a quirky character that she brings to the role, certainly not your usual stage school kid - she is an individual girl with star quality. Her classmates are brilliant too, Zachary Harris as Bruce has a smashing, soulful voice, and Ruby Bridle as Lavender is hilarious and feisty. It wouldn’t be possible to write a review of this show and not mention Bertie Carvel who rules the roost, giving a hysterical portrayal of cruel headmistress Miss Trunchbull… his mannerisms and tone of voice made me giggle nonstop, though he could also be pretty terrifying.
Tim Minchin is a genius, and has succeeded in capturing the imagination of Roald Dahl in a show that will makes people both laugh and cry. The music has sharp wit paired with an affecting sensitivity, that is sure to result in a few tears, and the memorable tunes, like ‘When I Grow Up’ are sure to increase the popularity of this musical.
Matilda the Musical is a magical and moving production that will thrill the whole family, it is the only show you HAVE to see this Christmas.