Matilda, which has been a West End fixture since 2011, has this year embarked on its first UK national tour. And this Christmas it has stationed itself at the iconic Wales Millennium Centre (WMC). We were invited along to the opening night of Matilda the musical at the WMC and we turned up with very high expectations.
Our expectations were high as throughout the day, whenever I spoke to someone who had already seen it, they proclaimed that it was their “favourite musical ever”. So no pressure Matilda!
A little digging revealed that they were not alone in their views. Matilda the musical, has been showered with rave reviews and prizes since it has first hit the stage in Stratford Upon Avon in 2010. It has won the Evening Standard Best New Musical Award, four Whatsonstage.com awards and then in April, it won a record breaking seven Olivier awards (out of a maximum of 10). In total, it has won over 85 international awards and has been seen by over 8 million people.
Our review of Matilda the Musical at the WMC
I’m relieved to say that Matilda the musical at the WMC more than met my expectations. And my eleven year old son who I took with me, loved it too. Somehow it cleverly managed to find the right balance to appeal to both children and adults in equal measure. There’s not many a musical that can proclaim to do that.
Matilda the musical is adapted to the stage from the famous book of the same name, by Roald Dahl. Its humorous script for the stage is written by Dennis Kelly. While the catchy music and child like lyrics are ingeniously composed by comedian Tim Minchin. There is plenty of humour in both the script and the lyrics, but there is also a poignancy running through them both too.
The songs are very catchy, and they stay with you way after the final curtain. I have been caught humming the numbers for the last couple of days now. It has been a while since I have been able to say the same of other musicals I have seen.
The story is centred around a clever little girl called Matilda, who is old beyond her years. Whilst she is bright, clever and warm of heart, her parents are anything but. Matilda longs to be a wanted child, to be her parents little miracle. But instead she is regarded as a mere annoyance.
To escape her parents, Matilda finds solitude in the library, in her books and in her own storytelling. But it soon becomes apparent that her story telling may have more truth in it, than even she would ever imagine.
Whilst her home life is pretty glum, her time at the school isn’t much better. As at the school, the horrid and hilarious headmistress Miss Trunchbull (Craige Els), makes the lives of the kids, or maggots as she calls them, a misery. She even throws kids around by their pigtails and stretches their ears!
But it is at school that Matilda ends up making a connection with the timid and kind Miss Honey, wonderfully played by Carly Thoms. This fated friendship, combined with her being just a little bit naughty, is how Matilda inevitably comes out on top at the end.
There are six Matilda’s who will play the part in rotation while on tour. Scarlett Cecil, who played Matilda, on the opening night was amazing. She had perfect comedic timing, a cracking voice and for such a little ‘maggot’ a great stage presence.
The children actors are very much a central part to the production and provide much of the energy and enthusiasm to the show. The opening number of ‘Miracle’ and the second half’s ‘When I Grow up’ are both fantastically choreographed and such fun to watch. The funny cute Lavender, played by Chantelle Tonolete was also too adorable for words.
Of course I can not miss out mentioning the ‘baddies’, whose characters were all flamboyantly cartoonish in style. There was the eccentric but stupid dad (Sebastien Torkia), the tarty selfish mum (Rebecca Thornhill) and the big boobed towering villain headmistress, Miss Trunchbull. Each were hilarious in their roles and in their own solo numbers showed that they could sing, dance and be funny in equal measure. Between the three of them, they provided the bulk of the comedy factor to the show.
The staging throughout was suitably bright and colourful with huge alphabet blocks providing the perfect framing to the stage. The scene changes from home to school to library were all seamless. There were some very clever stand out scenes too; the children on the swings, the school gym and the classroom with its self writing chalk to name just a few.
Our Verdict of Matilda the Musical at the WMC
The whole show is a triumph and we loved every minute of it! It was the type of musical I would go back and see again and again without hesitation! So if you can, go and see it with the family this Christmas. And if you don’t want to take my word for it, you can read what my son thought of it below.
A Review of Matilda by J, aged 11
I thought it was amazing. I laughed out loud when Bruce (Cuba Kamanu) did a gigantic burp with the scent wafting into Miss Trunchballs mouth. Uck! Matilda performed by Scarlet Cecil was amazing, how she could perform in front of almost 2,500 people was incredible. Lavender also made me laugh when she was about to tell everyone about what she had planned to trick Miss Trunchball. They all wowed and impressed me. I really enjoyed it.
Matilda the Musical at the WMC is showing until 12th January 2019.
Age guidance 6+ (No under 2’s)
Booking at: www.wmc.org.ukm
Thank you to Wales Millennium Centre for inviting us to the press night of Matilda the Musical
All photos courteous of the Wales Millennium Centre, Credit Manual Harlan.