The tour for Matilda the Musical was announced over 12 months ago and we’ve been in an eager state of anticipation since. It’s been a long wait. But finally, last night we got to see it. Though, in all my expectations, I certainly didn’t expect to see a child thrown across the theatre!
The UK born production, launched in the West End in 2011, is the stage adaptation of the much-loved Roald Dahl book and movie, with an original musical score by comedian Tim Minchin. It follows the early life of little Matilda Wormwood, born to parents who are too simple, ignorant and corrupt to appreciate such an intuitive and intelligent little girl. At school, things are not any easier when you have a principle who should never be allowed around children. Her intellect, her friends and her teacher all provide some much-needed light relief for her but she sure does have some tricks up her sleeve when it comes to teaching the bad adults in her life some much needed life lessons.
For all the magic and wonder that comes across in the movie, you’d think would be mere impossible to replicate in a stage show. But this show is as marvellous and as fanciful as you would expect. Including all of your favourite moments: Bruce demolishing an entire cake, Lavender popping the newt into the jug of water (spoiler alert!) and even some of those seemingly impossible tricks Matilda plays on her parents and Miss Trunchbull, plus many more.
The stage was a wonderland, transforming into various kinds of spaces and setting the stories so well. It is as imaginative and as creative as Roald Dahl himself. Seemingly simple but so fantastical and detailed all at the same time.
Playing Matilda in this performance was Olivia Juno Cleverley, which, coincidentally, is Olivia’s professional debut. This girl was an absolute shining star. She is one of the most professional and talented actresses I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching in a show. Absolutely phenomenal and quite rightly the titled character and most deserving of the standing ovation at the end. Olivia was supported by an incredible cast; Lily Van Veen as Lavender had us tickled as Matilda’s best friend, Charlie Garton as Bruce was funny throughout, especially through his starring musical number- who would have thought watching a boy eat cake could be so entertaining?! Sebastien Torkia as Mr Wormwood was a classic geezer and of course Elliot Harper as Miss Trunchbull, was our loveable villain.
You wouldn’t often describe Miss Trunchbull as the loveable villain but in Matilda the Musical, she certainly was. It was evident when it came to the applause at the end that the audience didn’t know whether to boo or cheer! That was the testament to the role. Despite her wickedness, you’d kind of admired how she’d brush off a thwarting by the children; even if her next punishment was a more ferocious attempt. It was a very comedic portrayal of her character but suited the show more so for it.
It is certainly one of the most enjoyable musicals I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching. I don’t use this phrase often, but it really is unforgettable. Whether you’re a lover of musicals, the Roald Dahl stories or even Matilda itself, this is a show that you shouldn’t miss!
Matilda the Musical is at the Bristol Hippodrome until the 8th of June before it heads off to Southampton and the Norwich for its final months of touring.