Monday, 11 March 2013

Matilda the Musical

Despite the many accolades and critical acclaim it has garnered, Matilda the Musical had never quite convinced me. I had this niggling doubt that it would just be really silly, a judgement that probably came from Tim Minchin's wild hair more than anything else. It certainly wasn't based on empirical evidence: I'd never even checked out any of the songs from it on YouTube. Luckily for me, my lovely friend Zoe decided to counter my obstinacy with a surprise trip to the show last night (5 Feb). She was right, I loved it.

Of course I loved it, how could I not? For a start, it's a classic heart-warming tale of good triumphing over evil that I, like so many other children, grew up with. Matilda is such an endearing character, it's impossible not to get caught up in her story and wish her well. No-one tells a story like Roald Dahl, from his distinctive language packed with silly sounds to his gift for creating memorable characters like the dastardly Miss Trunchball. This flair for storytelling is a characteristic that lives on in the Matilda of this stage version.

At the same time, it's an actual musical with songs written specifically to tell the story, which, as I've mentioned before, is a rare treat in this age of jukebox musicals. Many songs are really funny, which is unsurprising as that is what Tim Minchin is famous for after all, while others are genuinely moving. The whole score is brimming with influences from musical theatre history, making a musical geek like me happy, especially 'Pathetic' - where Miss Honey urges herself to find some inner strength - which feels like classic Sondheim. I was also captivated by the set design, filled with glowing letters and books that magically turned into a living room one minute, a playground the next. 

Boodles of Olivier Awards
Matilda will make you smile, laugh, cry (at least if you're sentimental like me), and sing showtunes on your way home before settling down with a good book. What more could you want from a night at the theatre?

Matilda the Musical is at Cambridge Theatre, London - and now Broadway too! You can buy tickets for London here.

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