MATILDA THE MUSICAL REVIEW
The Bristol Hippodrome
Tuesday 7th May – Saturday 8th June 2019
This week the ten year old and I popped into Bristol to see Matilda the Musical. “Bristol?” I hear you ask. Absolutely! There’s no longer any need to trek to the West End to see the multi-award-winning musical because the Royal Shakespeare Company has kindly brought it to our own fair city as part of the UK and Ireland Tour.
Now in its eighth year and already seen by millions, the musical “Matilda” is based on Roald Dahl’s phenomenally popular children’s book of the same name. My son, who, like the show’s protagonist, is something of a bookworm, has devoured Roald Dahl’s children’s books so there was no way I was going to get out of taking him to see Matilda when The Bristol Hippodrome invited us along.
So, on with the show!
MATILDA – THE PLOT
Matilda is a gifted child who teaches herself to read and develops a love of books at a young age. Instead of applauding her talents, her dysfunctional family despairs of the studious traits she persists in displaying, despite their best attempts to lure her into more worthy pursuits, such as watching television.
The ill treatment she’s subjected to at home is compounded when she reaches school age and finds herself under the tyrannical rule of sadistic, child-hating headmistress, Miss Trunchball, (Elliot Harper).
Matilda’s life is tough but she discovers true affection and support firstly from Mrs Phelps, the librarian (Michelle Chantelle Hopewell) and then from her class teacher, Miss Honey (Carly Thoms).
Matilda finds an inner strength which helps her to fight the injustices both within her own life and on behalf of others. When things get really bad she realises she’s developed special powers but will she learn to control them and use them for good before the situation gets out of hand?
We love the set: The stage is surrounded by hundreds (or is it thousands?) of children’s building blocks. I immediately read the word, “Matilda”, and as the show goes on find myself picking out more and more jumbled words. My son points out “escapologist”.
Set changes are quick, slick and numerous, taking us from living room to library to schoolroom to playground in an instant. Sometimes changes are physical and sometimes lighting changes the mood.
The children’s performances are A-MA-ZING: It’s rare to see a show with such demanding children’s roles but the acting is spot on and the choreography fabulously executed.
Magic and special effects: Or did they actually spin a little girl around and toss her into the air by her pigtails?
Tim Minchin’s music: My boys have been performing these songs in various school, choir and show performances over the years. Now I finally realise where they come from and even why I needed to cart a scooter into the theatre!
Olivia Juno Cleverley: Thursday’s performance featured Olivia as one of the four young girls playing the role of Matilda. Young Olivia looked so tiny on the expansive stage and yet she commanded it like a seasoned professional. I wonder what she’s been in before? What could have prepared her for this monumental role? Uh, nothing really because according to the programme, her role as Matilda is her professional debut. Really? Has nobody told this girl how hard it is to learn the ABSURD number of lines she has to recite? To sing, in character, while filling the stage with moves? To have the Hippodrome audience mesmorised while she recites her nail-biting story of the escapologist and the acrobat? Olivia, your hard work has been worth it. You rock!
MATILDA AGE SUITABILITY
Matilda the Musical is based on a book written for children however the story is pretty dark and I think some scenes are quite scary. I feel sorry for the young actors as Miss Trunchball lays into them proclaiming all children to be maggots.
My age-suitability barometer these days is a ten year old boy who isn’t afraid of anything much on stage or screen AND he loves the book. He’s clearly the expert here and he says he thinks it’s ideal for his age-group. It was lovely to see the theatre full of young children and I certainly didn’t hear any complaints. In fact the only children who were “a little bit naughty” were up on stage.
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MATILDA THE MUSICAL CAST AND CREDITS
Produced by: The Royal Shakespeare Company
Novel written by: Roald Dahl (author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The BFG and many more of the world’s best-loved children’s stories. )
Musical written by: Dennis Kelly
Executive Producers: André Ptaszynski and Denise Wood
Music and lyrics: Tim Minchin
Direction: Matthew Warchus.
Production design: Rob Howell
Choreography: Peter Darling
Orchestrations, additional music and musical supervision: Christopher Nightingale
Lighting: Hugh Vanstone
Sound: Simon Baker
Special effects and illusions: Paul Kieve
Matilda: Scarlett Cecil, Olivia Juno Cleverley, Freya Scott and Sophie Woolhouse.
Other young performers who play the roles of Bruce, Lavender, Amanda and the rest of the pupils at Crunchem Hall are: Aiya Agustin, Evie Allen, Joseph Black, Elliot Boothroyd, Brooke Burke, Presley Charman, Oliver Dalby, Lillie May Downton, Charlie Garton, Toby Hales, Theo Hanness, Porsha Hoyland-Lau, Darcy Kelly, Noah Leggott, Adam Lord, Georgia Mae Brown, Felicity Mitson, Toby Mocrei, Ben Pike, Joely Robertson, Erin Rushidi, Alfie Sanderson, Ryan Tayler-Young, Chantelle Tonolete and Lily Van Veen.
Miss Trunchball: Elliot Harper
Miss Honey: Carly Thoms (Miss Honey) and
Mr Wormwood: Sebastien Torkia
Mrs Wormwood: Rebecca Thornhill
Adult cast: Richard Astbury, Joe Atkinson, Nina Bell, Peter Bindloss, Oliver Bingham, Emily Bull, Samara Casteallo, Matthew Caputo, Matt Gillett, Michelle Chantelle Hopewell, Sam Lathwood, Steffan Lloyd-Evans, Charlie Martin, Anu Ogunmefun, Carly Thoms, Rebecca Thornhill, Sebastien Torkia, Adam Vaughan and Dawn Williams.
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