Wednesday, January 27, 2021
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Travel UK Matilda the musical

Matilda the musical

Cambridge Theatre

First a best selling book, then a fun film from Hollywood and finally a musical thatrical producyion that won a clutch of awards in the West End before crossing the Atlantic and conquering Broadway. Still in the West End this should be at the top of anybodies wish list. Take a child and pretend that you are really there for them when secretly enjoying it for yourself.
The story is pretty much the same - young Matilda has grown up in a family who abhor academic achievement whilst her father is a crooked car dealer and her mother lives for her dancing with her lithe latino partner (actually a cockney). Early on she is shocked to discover that she is pregnant and holds this against the young girl who is a bookworm of the highest order. Eventually a deal is made with Miss Trunchbull a sadistic former hammer throwing champion who is not averse to grabbing a child by the pigtails and seeing how far she can fling them - and don't mention the chokey. Only lonely teacher Miss Honey and a librarian can see her true potential. Thrown into the mix is Matilda's knack for inventing a story spread over several instalments that might be closer to the truth than she can imagine, and then of course is her unique talent.
Principally with a cast of nine children augmented by some adults dressed as children for certain musical scenes, there are some fine set pieces which the young actors belt out and move with prescision. Because of the demands of a West End run there are multiple sets of children to fulfill the roles but rest assured whover you will see is someone at the top of their game. The current Mailda's are Isobel Hubble, Sara Munday, Savannah Read, Olivia Wells and Francesca McKeown. They have long and complicated lines (at times almost like Sondheim) yet deliver these with aplomb.

There are some Russian Mafiosi running around too which is perhaps the weakest link plot wise.
Basically it is a riot with some great songs and our young actors will swing out over the audience whilst whichever Matilda you see will climb on piles of books way higher than herself. Writer Dennis Kelly and composer and lyricist Tim Minchin have created a hugely enjoyable evening that is true to the book and yet allows the musical numbers such as 'When I grow up' and 'Revolting' to shine.

Miss Trunchbull is played by Hayden Tee as a kind of Pantomine Dame but with a vicious streak and is gloriously over the top, but never descending into a cartoonish caricature. There is one number based around physical education in which Trunchbull becomes almost surreal amidst all the wooden horse vaulting. The same cannot be said about Matilda's parents performed by Rob Compton and Holly Dale Spencer who are great comically but somewhat two dimensional.

The set alternates between an archway of books and a giant set of school gates, a school classroom and the titular character's bedroom.

This must be the only show which the cast take a curtain call riding scooters and it all adds to the fun. It's some two and a half hours so choose the show you take your children to with care.