May 16, 2013


April 20, 2013

Synopsis: Matilda Wormwood is an exceptional little girl who is born into un-exceptional circumstances. Her mother is vain, shallow, and loud. Her father is a dishonest, book-loathing car salesman, who can’t seem to remember that Matilda is, indeed, a girl. Her brother is dull and dim-witted. Matilda finds an escape in books and story-telling, and she eagerly embraces the start of school. However, school brings new challenges, most notably, the evil, child-hating headmistress- Miss Trunchbull. Matilda unleashes secret powers in order to help her fellow classmates, her new teacher, Miss Honey, and herself. Winner of seven Olivier awards, Matilda was recently nominated for twelve Tony Awards. 

Comments: Based on the beloved book by Roald Dahl, the most remarkable thing about Matilda is that it is appropriate and enjoyable for people of all ages. Part of this is due to Dahl’s ability to portray the darker side of childhood, and this is not lost in the transition from book/movie to musical thanks to book writer Dennis Kelly. 

The title role is shared by four young actresses. It should be noted that the four Matildas are not eligible for a Tony Award, but instead, are sharing a special Tony Honor at this year’s Tony Awards. My Saturday matinee Matilda was the very spunky and adorable Miss Sophia Gennusa, who rapidly won the hearts of the audience members.  I particularly loved her performance of “Naughty”, which I thought was written, choreographed, and performed cleverly. Sophia’s Matilda was quietly intense, mysteriously imaginative, and wise beyond her years. 

I can’t talk about Matilda without discussing the stand-out performance of Tony nominee Bertie Carvel as Miss Trunchbull. If I had to describe his performance in one word, it would be: scary. I am not a child and I was scared of him, or at least scared of the possibility of his character breaking the fourth wall! First of all, the costume designers and make-up artists must be credited with making Miss Trunchbull look truly hideous. The rotting teeth and facial warts complete with a single protruding hair were particularly effective. I also loved the hairy legs- a nice touch.  With a chilling smirk, an insidious glance, a determined narrowing of the eyes, and an intimidating command of the stage, Bertie Carvel has created a truly creepy character.  Bravo. 

Tony nominee Gabriel Ebert and Lesli Margherita were a great comic duo as Matilda’s parents. Though the characters were ignorant and self absorbed, I thoroughly enjoyed their time on the stage because they were just hilarious.  Tony nominee Lauren Ward was perfectly sweet and well-mannered as Miss Honey, Matilda’s teacher and advocate.   

Choreography by Peter Darling was fabulous- it made me want to go home and jump on a swing-set! The energetic ensemble of young performers, who played Matilda’s classmates, was fantastic. I also loved the library-themed sets. 

Music by Tim Minchin included several memorable songs, specifically “Revolting Children” and “Naughty”, but many songs seemed to support the choreography rather than provide a memorable melody to the ear. Not that I’m complaining, because as I mentioned earlier, the choreography was a major highlight in this show. 

Check out Matilda at the Shubert Theatre on Broadway! 

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