For theatre... online, non-professional, amateur
Matilda the Musical 10th Anniversary

Matilda the Musical 10th Anniversary

Dennis Kelly and Tim Minchin at Matilda The Musical’s 10th Birthday. Photo: Ellie Kurtz

Revisiting long-running shows can lead to disappointment, but there was no chance of that at the Cambridge Theatre for the 10th anniversary gala performance of Matilda the Musical, developed and directed by Matthew Warchus and the RSC. The show is in excellent shape, with the latest cast more than the equal of their predecessors. Where the role of Matilda is concerned, some of those earlier performers were watching the performance, with an amazing 42 of them attending. The elation with which each of their numbers was greeted was then followed by them listening with rapt attention, probably eager to spot the small nuances which each talented (and well directed) performer brings to the role.

The adult performers were on fire too, whether that might be the amazing contortions of Matt Krzan as Rudolpho, or Sebastien Torkia, who manages to dilute the seediness of Mr Wormwood with an endearing lack of understanding. Opposite him is Annette McLaughlin, adding Mrs Wormwood to her roll call of great musical roles, and making the most of every line, song and high kick.

At Crunchem Hall, Landi Oshinowo is an endearing and authoritative Mrs Phelps, working well with her young co-star, and Carly Thoms is everything that is required as the saintly Miss Honey, and also has a crystal clear singing voice so that every word can be heard. The latest performer to take on Miss Trunchbull is Elliot Harper, and he is more than equal to the task. His Trunchbull is by turns wistful about her sporty past and determined to get her young charges in line, and he handles the setpieces like the punishments for the children and the awful PE lesson with aplomb.

The children, of course, are formidable as always. At the gala performance, Imogen Cole played the title role with intensity and determination, very much a force to be reckoned with. Around her, the other child performers and the adult ensemble worked together to put over the chorus numbers that are the great strengths of this piece. Peter Darling’s choreography, in particular, has a crispness and flourish which some other long-running shows would find difficult to match, and the atmosphere in the theatre, as a result, was electric. Frustratingly, the intricate and apt lyrics are not always clear and sometimes seem to be drowned out by the orchestra, at least from the Rear Stalls.

Much of the success of the show is down to Dahl’s story of course, and his ability to get inside the minds of children, but the involvement of key creatives to turn Matilda into a musical has also played a large part. Dennis Kelly’s book plays appropriate respect to the source material but also shapes it into a narrative that works as a satisfying theatrical experience. It was telling that he said during the speeches before the performance that he saw Matilda as “a little girl who just wasn’t going to put up with it” and that very much comes over in his book. Tim Minchin’s music and lyrics seem rooted in Dahl’s world, appropriate for a composer who himself grew up reading the stories and verse, and he paid tribute to the “hundreds of incredible people working for ten years” to put on the show.

Already playing around the world and recently touring the UK and Ireland, Matilda has already become a staple production (in its Junior version) at some of our more enterprising schools as well. I feel sure that the 10th anniversary is just the latest stage in the ongoing story of this phenomenal show and its ever-changing cast of talented performers.

  • : admin
  • : 12/11/2021