I think I enjoyed my second visit to Matilda the Musical even more than my first a few years ago.
I was worried that because I loved it so much first time round I’d have built it up too much, but it was every bit as brilliant as I remembered.
I also saw it from a completely different perspective this time, sitting on the third row, rather than up at the top back of the theatre.
I often describe Tim Minchin as a Roald Dahl for grown-ups, and I think his input is part of what makes the show so fantastic. It feels so authentically ‘Roald Dahl’, yet adds even more layers.
The musical is all about Matilda’s love of stories and storytelling and I think this is what makes it so magical. The wordplay is very clever, and the lyrics fantastic. Just listen to ‘The School Song’, preferably watching clips to see the staging, and you’ll see just how clever every moment of the show is.
What I love most about the musical is the added depth, and the story of the escapologist’s daughter – no spoilers if you haven’t seen it yet. Seeing Matilda’s creativity and the way she uses words and phrases she has picked up from other characters in previous scenes is so believable, and the story weaves incredibly throughout the story we already know so well.
It’s a show that delights children and adults alike, which again is done very cleverly. There were children near to me who were spellbound, but equally the adults were hanging onto every word. That balance is so hard to get right, and Matilda the Musical achieves it to phenomenal effect.
The cast of course includes multiple children for every role, and we saw a few of the adult characters played by understudies too so I will of course be talking about the cast I saw last Saturday.
Our Matilda was Zari-Angel Hator and she was just incredible. Her voice, her charm, her delivery of such a complex script, and her overall command of the stage was impressive, and there was never a moment where you were unsure she had everything under control.
The children in general perform to such a high standard it just blows me away. They’re carrying a show full of complex wordplay, with tight choreography and a many-layered score, and they handle it seemingly effortlessly. Special mention here has to go to Ynez Williams as Lavendar Brown, who was perfectly cast, and Oliver Llewelyn-Williams who was excellent as Bruce, especially in his diva moments of ‘Revolting Children’.
The adults of the show were equally well cast. Craige Els was a fantastic Trunchbull, and had us in stitches scene after scene. The decision to cast a man as Miss Trunchbull was a great one, and Els played the role well.
The Wormwoods (Michael Begley and Laura Tyler) were just as grotesque as they should be, and Mr Wormwood’s rendition of ‘Telly’ was a highlight. Miss Honey was taken on by Charlotte Scott, whose voice was lovely but it was her acting that caught me – those tender moments with Matilda were well played and I enjoyed getting to witness them right up close.
Matilda is a show that will leave you singing the songs for days, and I guarantee you’ll have so many ‘favourite moments’ it will be hard to pick. If you really pushed me on songs, I’d say ‘Revolting Children’, ‘When I Grow Up’, ‘Naughty’ and the School Song’ are well up there, but then there’s less ‘showy’ songs like ‘My House which I also love.
When I originally wrote this review it was at least double the length and I came to the conclusion I just can’t write about all my favourite parts because we’d be here forever and the conclusion is just that it’s an absolutely fantastic show. The story, the songs, the cast, the stage – every element pulls together beautifully, and it’s a show you won’t forget.