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Matilda the Musical is a stage musical based on the 1988 children's novel of the same name by Roald Dahl. It was adapted by Dennis Kelly, with music and lyrics by Tim Minchin. The musical's narrative centres on Matilda, a precocious 5-year-old girl with the gift of telekinesis, who loves reading, overcomes obstacles caused by her family and school, and helps her teacher to reclaim her life. After a twelve-week trial run staged by the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) at Stratford-upon-Avon from November 2010 to January 2011, it received its West End premiere on 24 November 2011 at the Cambridge Theatre and its Broadway premiere on 11 April 2013 at the Shubert Theatre.
Matilda has received widespread critical acclaim and box-office popularity, winning seven 2012 Olivier Awards, including Best New Musical—at the time, the most such awards ever won by a single show. At the 2013 Olivier Awards, the show jointly held the record with the play The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time before both were overtaken by Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in 2017 with 9 awards, however Matilda still holds the record for most Olivier awards won by a musical, tying with Hamilton in 2018. At the 2013 Tony Awards, the show won five awards, including the Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical.
In 2009, the Royal Shakespeare Company announced its intention to stage a musical adaptation of Matilda, engaging Dennis Kelly as playwright, Tim Minchin as the composer and lyricist, Matthew Warchus as director, Chris Nightingale as orchestrator and music supervision, Rob Howell as set designer and Paul Kieve as illusionist and special effects creator. The musical (originally titled Matilda, A Musical) opened at the Courtyard Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, on 9 December 2010 following previews from 9 November. The show was choreographed by Peter Darling. Bertie Carvel played Miss Trunchbull, with Paul Kaye and Josie Walker as Matilda's parents Mr and Mrs Wormwood, and Lauren Ward as Miss Honey. Three young actresses, Adrianna Bertola, Josie Griffiths and Kerry Ingram, alternated in the title role. The show ended its premiere engagement on 30 January 2011.
In 2011, the musical received its West End debut (under the new title of Matilda the Musical) at London's Cambridge Theatre. The show was originally scheduled to begin previews on 18 October 2011, but because of structural and installation work at the theatre, the start of the performances was delayed until 25 October. The opening night was postponed from 22 November to 24 November. The musical opened in London to uniformly positive reviews; Kaye and Carvel received high praise for their performances. Many of the principal adult cast from the Stratford run reprised their roles in London. Eleanor Worthington Cox, Cleo Demetriou, Sophia Kiely and Kerry Ingram—the only one to reprise her role from Stratford—rotated in the title role.
In October 2011, Matilda won Best Musical and Best Actor (Bertie Carvel) in the Theatre Awards UK, and in November 2011 it won the Ned Sherrin Award for Best Musical as part of The Evening Standard Awards. The production was nominated in all 10 categories for which it was eligible at the 2012 Olivier Awards. The 'Four Matildas' performed "Naughty" at the awards show. Matilda won 7 Oliviers: Best New Musical, Best Director (Warchus), Best Actor in a Musical (Carvel), Best Actress in a Musical (all four Matildas), Best Theatre Choreographer (Darling), Best Set Design (Howell) and Best Sound Design (Baker). This was a record number for any show in the event's 36-year history.In April 2012, Steve Furst and Haley Flaherty took over the roles of Mr. Wormwood and Miss Honey from Kaye and Ward. Two of the original London Matildas (Ingram and Kiely) were replaced by Jade Marner and Isobelle Molloy (Molloy originally played Amanda in the original London cast before being cast as Matilda). Bertie Carvel left in July 2012 and the role of Miss Trunchbull was filled by David Leonard, although he did not start until the main cast change in August because of injury. At this cast change four new girls took over as Matilda; Lucy-Mae Beacock, Hayley Canham, Chloe Hawthorn and Lara Wollington.On 19 November 2012, the London cast were invited to perform at the 100th "Royal Variety Performance" for television station ITV which was broadcast live on 3 December. They performed "When I Grow Up" and "Naughty" with Chloe in the lead role, with the other 3 girls appearing in the announcement of the performance.In March 2013, Hayley Canham left the show and was replaced as Matilda by Elise Blake and Cristina Fray. Lucy-Mae Beacock left in early May 2013. The next cast change occurred in September 2013. This time most of the adult cast changed, along with Chloe Hawthorn who left on 1 September. Two new Matildas—Lollie McKenzie and Georgia Pemberton—started the following week. Lara Wollington stayed for another four weeks, finishing on 29 September—making her run the longest of any Matilda, and she held that title until October 2017.The cast opened the 2013 Children in Need appeal. They performed a medley, with Georgia as Matilda.
Of the Matildas only Lollie McKenzie stayed during the cast change in March 2014. This cast change started with the departure of Elise Blake on 9 March along with other child cast members. She was replaced by Tasha Chapple. Fray and Pemberton were replaced by two new Matildas, Cara Jenkins and Lottie Sicilia, who debuted in the role in the following weeks, on 18 March and 25 March respectively. During this time, both Lollie and Lottie performed the song "Naughty" at West End Live.
McKenzie and Jenkins departed the show on 7 September and 5 October. Two new Matildas—Matilda Shapland and Violet Tucker—debuted in the roles on 09 and 19 September. Shapland was previously in Les Misérables, while Tucker had her West End debut in the title role. Of the Matildas only Shapland and Tucker stayed during the cast change in March 2015. This cast change started with the departure of Tasha Chapple and Lottie Sicilia along with other child cast members. They have been replaced by Anna-Louise Knight and Lara McDonnell. Over September 2015, Tucker and Shapland departed the show and were replaced by Evie Hone and Lizzie Wells. On 27 January 2016, three new Matildas - Clara Read, Emily-May Stephenson and Zaris-Angel Hator - were announced and joined Hone in the role in March. In late September 2016 it was confirmed that Hone would be leaving along with Stephenson after her relatively short stint. The two girls would be replaced by two new Matildas - Sara Sheen and Abbie Vena. Both of whom, Sara on 13 September (also Roald Dahl day) and Abbie on 22 September, made their Matilda debut.
On 21 December 2016 the 7:30pm performance was cancelled due to multiple illnesses in the cast, including principal child performers and their understudies. Because of this Lara McDonnell and Emily May Stephenson (both past Matildas) came back to cover the few performances 22–24 December. This illness coincided with similar incidents at nearby musicals Dreamgirls and Rent which caused disruptions to their primary cast members, but it is unclear as to whether these events are linked or not.
On 2 March 2017, it was announced that from 14 March 2017 the lead role would be shared by Lillian Hardy, Emma Moore, Eva-Marie Saffrey, and Abbie Vena, upon the departure of Sheen, Hator, and Read. This team had two public appearances. Abbie performed "Naughty" at West End Live on 24 June 2017, and Emma performed the same song on day two of West End Live on 25 June 2017. Hardy, Saffrey, and Vena departed the production on 12 September 2017.
On 5 September 2017, the RSC announced that three new girls would be stepping into the role of Matilda following the departure of Hardy, Saffrey, and Vena: Lily-Mae Evans, Kitty Peterkin, and Savannah Read. They join Emma Moore who stayed through the cast change. Additional cast changes included David Shannon as Miss Trunchbull, Gina Beck as Miss Honey, and Tom Edden and Marianne Benedict as Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood. This team began performances on 12 September 2017. Past Matilda Abbie Vena, however, performed "Naughty" on CCBC's Blue Peter on 19 October 2017 to accompany an interview with the new Matildas (Evans, Peterkin and Read), making her the longest running Matilda to date, having taken the title from Lara Wollington who also performed in the West End.
The next cast change was announced on 2 March 2018. Read and Evans would be continuing in the role of Matilda, while Peterkin and Moore were replaced by Sara Munday and Olivia Wells. Much of the children's cast also changed at this time. This new team began performances on 13 March 2018. Also at this time, the RSC announced a new online ticket lottery, giving audience members the opportunity to purchase "the best seats in the house" at reduced prices.
On 28 May 2018, the London cast was invited to perform on Britain's Got Talent. They performed a medley of songs from the show, including "Naughty" and "Revolting Children", and received a standing ovation. Lily-Mae played the role of Matilda in this performance. Matilda again performed at West End Live. Lily-Mae performed on 16 June 2018, and Sara performed on 17 June 2018. Both girls sang "Naughty".
On 13 August 2018, a new cast change was announced. Isobel Hubble and Francesca McKeown will join Munday and Wells as Matilda. Other new cast members include Hayden Tee as Miss Trunchbull, and Rob Compton and Holly Dale Spencer as Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood.
On 29 February 2012, the RSC announced the show would transfer to Broadway in spring 2013; it would still be set in England despite initial pressure for the show to be Americanised. On 19 July 2012, it was announced that the show would open on 11 April 2013 at the Shubert Theatre, with previews commencing on 4 March 2013. Bertie Carvel and Lauren Ward reprised their roles as Miss Trunchbull and Miss Honey. Ted Wilson also continued as Eric. A four girl cast consisting of Sophia Gennusa, Oona Laurence, Bailey Ryon, and Milly Shapiro played the titular role of Matilda.
The transfer cost US$16 million to produce; it opened as planned on 11 April 2013, with Sophia Gennusa playing the leading role. Small changes were made from the London production; some lyrics were changed to suit American audiences and more scenes used the orchestra pit/front stalls area of the theatre. The Broadway production also introduced an overture and pre-show curtain, as of June 2013.
On 1 September 2013, Carvel and Ward played their final performances, Jill Paice joined the cast as Miss Honey and played her first performance on 3 September. Craig Bierko took over as Miss Trunchbull on 17 September, after recovering from an injury. In October 2013, Matilda broke the box office record for the Shubert Theatre. On 19 November, it was announced that Bierko will not return to the role of Miss Trunchbull due to "medical circumstances", following a shoulder injury sustained during rehearsals. Chris Hoch, understudy for Miss Trunchbull, has been given a contract to perform the role for the duration of Bierko's absence into January.On 25 November 2013, The Wall Street Journal reported that the original Matildas would be bowing out "in the next two months". On 11 December, it was announced that Paige Brady, Gabriella Pizzolo, Ripley Sobo and Ava Ulloa would take over the title role. Brady, Pizzolo and Ulloa were making their Broadway debuts; Sobo previously appeared in Once.
On 31 January 2014, it was reported that Christopher Sieber and Matt Harrington would be joining the company as Miss Trunchbull and Mr Wormwood, respectively. Harrington made his debut on 4 March. Sieber would initially join the company on 18 March but, after sustaining a hand injury during rehearsals, would have his debut in the role sometime in April. While Sieber recovered from his injury, understudy Ben Thompson played the role for a limited engagement. Sieber finally stepped into the role on 18 April.On 21 August 2014, it was reported that Tori Feinstein, Eliza Holland Madore, Brooklyn Shuck and Fina Strazza would take over the title role. Feinstein and Strazza made their Broadway debuts; Madore and Shuck had previously appeared in Once and Annie, respectively. Strazza and Shuck debuted in the role on 24 and 31 August while Madore and Feinstein had their debuts on 7 and 14 September. The Broadway production recouped its $16 million investment in December after more than a year and a half.Between 4 and 26 July 2015, the production introduced four new girls, Mattea Conforti, Rileigh McDonald, Mimi Ryder, and Alexandra Vlachos, in the title role. On 8 September, Allison Case, Amy Spanger, Rick Holmes, and Natalie Venetia Belcon joined the production as Miss Honey, Mrs. Wormwood, Mr. Wormwood, and Mrs. Phelps, taking over Alison Luff, Lesli Margherita, Matt Harrington, and Karen Aldridge.In April and May 2016, three new girls, Ava Briglia, Willow McCarthy, and Aviva Winick were cast in the title role. Lesli Margherita and Karen Aldridge also returned to reprise their roles as Mrs. Wormwood and Mrs. Phelps, respectively. In December 2016, it was announced that Winick had sustained an injury and would not be continuing with the rest of her run. Former Matilda Tori Feinstein rejoined the cast for the remaining run time.
The Broadway production closed on 1 January 2017 after 1,555 performances.
US National Tour
On 1 June 2013, Tim Minchin announced during an interview that the show was preparing for a US national tour. Minchin said, "We just got it up in New York, there's a touring version that is meant to be going on in America...". Once again produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company and The Dodgers, the tour began technical rehearsals and performances in May 2015 at the Shubert Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut, before its official launch on 7 June at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles, California. Announced stops included the SHN Orpheum Theare in San Francisco, California, the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle, Washington, the AT&T Performing Arts Center in Dallas, Texas, the Kennedy Center Opera House in Washington, DC, and the Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa, Florida. The cast was announced on 21 April 2015. Three girls would alternate in the lead role: Mia Sinclair Jenness, Gabby Gutierrez, and Mabel Tyler. Gutierrez and Tyler made their tour debuts; Jenness had appeared in the Original Broadway Cast and 25th Anniversary Tour of Les Misérables. Other principal cast members included Jennifer Blood as Miss Honey, Bryce Ryness as Miss Trunchbull, and Quinn Mattfeld and Cassie Silva as Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood.
The national tour of Matilda had its first official performance on 7 June 2015 at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles, California. Mia Sinclair Jenness played the title role. On 15 June 2015, the three Matildas along with Tim Minchin performed on Conan. On 29 November 2015, Jenness left the touring cast and was replaced by former Broadway Matilda Tori Feinstein on 5 December 2015. Shortly after, it was announced that three new girls would be stepping into the role of Matilda: Lily Brooks O'Briant, Savannah Grace Elmer, and Sarah McKinley Austin. Matilda was the tour debut for both Elmer and Brooks; Austin had previously toured with Once. Tyler, Feinstein, and Gutierrez bowed out over the next few weeks, with Tyler playing her last performance on 20 December, Feinstein departing on 28 December, and Gutierrez ending her run on 10 January 2016. Elmer, Brooks, and Austin debuted on 19 December 2015, 2 January 2016, and 9 January 2016, respectively. This second cast concluded touring on 26 June 2016, with the tour scheduled to resume again later for another six months.
After the closing of the Toronto production of Matilda, the cast went directly into the 2017 touring season. Hannah Levinson, Jaime MacLean, and Jenna Weir played Matilda until Levinson left the cast on 12 February 2017, and was replaced by former tour Matilda Gabby Gutierrez. Other lead roles were played by Paula Brancati (Miss Honey), Dan Chameroy (Miss Trunchbull), Keisha T. Fraser (Mrs. Phelps), Brandon McGibbon (Mr. Wormwood), and Darcy Stewart (Mrs. Wormwood). The tour launched on 12 January 2017 at the Popejoy Hall in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The US National Tour took its final bow on 25 June 2017 at the Chapman Music Hall in Tulsa, OK.
Australian and New Zealand Tour
In July 2013, Minchin said that an Australian production is planned for 2015. The production, produced by Louise Withers, had preview performances from 28 July before opening at the Sydney Lyric theatre on 20 August 2015. The ticketing release date (October 2014) was announced at Pier 2/3 in Walsh Bay, with Minchin, International Executive Producer André Ptaszynski, NSW Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner and Sydney press in attendance. The cast included Marika Aubrey and Daniel Frederiksen as Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood, Elise McCann as Miss Honey and James Millar as Miss Trunchbull. Sasha Rose (12), Georgia Taplin (11), Molly Barwick (10) and Bella Thomas (13) shared the title role with Thomas playing Matilda on the opening night. The Sydney season ended on Sunday 29 February with Georgia Taplin playing the title role, before transferring to Melbourne.
For the Melbourne season, Dusty Bursill, Alannah Parfett, Tiana Mirra and Ingrid Torelli were announced to rotate playing the title role. On 3 January, Sydney Matilda Bella Thomas was injured and Parfett began her run early in Sydney, covering Thomas until she was better and joining the girls in a rotation until the end of the Sydney run. Mirra and Torelli made their debuts in Sydney's final week on 24 and 27 February respectively. The show opened at Melbourne's Princess Theatre on 13 March and was extended to perform until 11 November 2016. Some of the Sydney child cast members reprised their roles for selected performances in Melbourne; for example, certain performances featured Molly Barwick as Matilda.
Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Auckland:
A new season was announced to start in Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, and Auckland. Izellah Connelly, Annabella Cowley, Venice Harris, Eva Murawski rotated the leading role of Matilda. The Matilda tour continued on to Brisbane from 25 November 2016 to 12 February 2017 at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) before moving on to perform at the Crown Theatre in Perth from 28 February until 7 May 2017 and from 21 May to 16 July 2017 at the Adelaide Festival Theatre in South Australia. The show ran in at the Civic Theatre in Auckland until 22 October 2017. Lucy Maunder was initially scheduled to take on the role of Miss Honey from McCann beginning the Brisbane leg. However, due to Maunder's pregnancy, the transition was postponed until 20 March 2017 midway through the Perth leg.
After the successful launches of Once and the Tony Award-winning Kinky Boots, Mirvish Productions chose to open a Canadian production of Matilda the Musical. The company opened at the Ed Mirvish Theatre beginning in July 2016, closing on 7 January 2017. Hannah Levinson, Jenna Weir, and Jaime MacLean rotated playing the title role. On 8 October 2016, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and family attended a performance.
UK and Ireland tour
On 11 April 2017, a tour was announced to begin at Curve, Leicester from 5–24 March 2018 before touring to Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, Dublin (4 - 28 April), Sunderland Empire (8 May - 2 June), Milton Keynes Theatre (5 - 30 June), Birmingham Hippodrome (3 July - 8 September), Manchester Palace Theatre (18 September - 24 November) and Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff (4 December - 12 January 2019). Further venues were announced on 13 March 2018. The tour will go to Theatre Royal, Plymouth (15 January - 16 February 2019), the Alhambra Theatre, Bradford (19 February - 23 March), Edinburgh Playhouse (2 - 27 April), the Bristol Hippodrome (7 May - 8 June), Southampton Mayflower (11 June - 6 July) and Norwich Theatre Royal (16 July - 17 August). On 17 October 2017, the adult cast was announced, to include Craige Els as Miss Trunchbull, Carly Thoms as Miss Honey, Sebastien Torkia as Mr Wormwood and Rebecca Thornhill as Mrs Wormwood. On 16 January 2018, the children's cast was announced, with the role of Matilda being shared between Annalise Bradbury, Lara Cohen, Poppy Jones and Nicola Turner . The tour officially opened as scheduled on 5 March 2018 at the Curve theatre in Leicester, with Poppy Jones in the title role on opening night. The tour completed its Leicester run on 24 March 2018. On 4 April 2018, the tour opened at the Bord Gais Theatre in Dublin, with Jones again playing the leading role. This run marked Matilda the Musical's Irish debut. On 23 August 2018, two new girls, Scarlett Cecil and Sophia Ally, were announced to join Bradbury and Turner from 29 August on. The children's cast change was also announced at this time, and will include Evie Allen, Joseph Black, Georgia Mae Brown, Jessica Chalmers, Cuba Kamanu, Tom Lomas, Adam Lord, Maddison Lowe, Ilan Miller, Felicity Mitson, Toby Mocrei, Ashton Murphy, Joely Robertson, Ruaridh Sinnott, Kit Swaddling, Chantelle Tonolete and Harry Wilson.
Matilda had its Asian premiere in the Philippines on 10 November 2017. The production closed on 10 December 2017. This production was the first licensed production; it was not produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company, and has no links to the original production except for the score and script. The show featured Esang de Torres, Uma Martin, and Felicity Kyle Napuli alternating the title role, with Esang playing the role on opening night. The Manila production also had a 16-child strong cast alternating 8 other student roles.
In July 2017, Seensee Company announced they would be producing a production of Matilda the Musical in September 2018. The production will be in arrangement with the RSC and be the first non-English version of Matilda produced. The company includes a cast consisting of four girls, named Ii Ji Na, An So Myeong, Hwang Ye Yeong, and Seol Ka Eun that will rotate in the title role of Matilda, as well as a 16-member child cast that will play the roles of Matilda's classmates.
An international tour will begin at the Teatro At Montecasino in Johannesburg from 17 October to 2 December 2018, before running at the Artscape Opera House in Cape Town from 11 December 2018 to 13 January 2019.
Following the South African runs, the international tour will run at the Sands Theater at Marina Bay Sands from 21 February to 3 March 2019.
US Regional Productions
In 2018, a small number of major regional theaters will be producing Matilda. Tuacahn Amphitheatre in Ivins, Utah is producing Matilda as part of its season, opening 9 June and closing in October 2018, with Lydia Ricks playing Matilda. Philadelphia's Walnut Street Theatre is producing Matilda with performances beginning on 6 November 2018 for a total run of 2 months. Village Theatre, outside of Seattle, Washington, is producing Matilda, opening on 8 November 2018 for a three-month run. Holly Reichert and Nava Ruthfield will be playing Matilda. The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College is producing Matilda opening
On December 6 and closing Jan 6
As a chorus of children boast about being their parents' miracles, the ballroom dancing-obsessed Mrs. Wormwood gives birth to a baby girl called Matilda. The doctor thinks Matilda is the most beautiful child he has ever seen, but Mrs. Wormwood is only worried about a dancing contest she has missed. Similarly shallow, Mr. Wormwood—a used-car salesman and television addict—dismisses the child when he realizes she is a girl ('Miracle'). Five years later, Matilda is an avid reader and lives unhappily with her parents and her older, gormless brother Michael. The Wormwoods are oblivious to her genius and frequently mock and verbally abuse her. Matilda adds some of her mother's hydrogen peroxide to her father's hair oil, leaving Mr. Wormwood with bright green hair ('Naughty').
At the local library Matilda tells Mrs. Phelps a story about a world-famous acrobat and escapologist couple who long to have a child but cannot. To distract themselves from their sadness they announce to the world's press that they will perform an exciting and dangerous new act. The next day is Matilda's first day at school ('School Song'). Her teacher Miss Honey is impressed by Matilda's precociousness and ability, so she recommends that Matilda is moved to the top class with the older children ('Pathetic'). However, the child-hating, disciplinarian headmistress Miss Trunchbull dismisses Miss Honey's suggestion and lectures her on the importance of following rules ('The Hammer').
At the Wormwood's house, Mr. Wormwood is frustrated about losing a sale of worn-out cars to a group of rich Russians. He takes his frustration out on Matilda and destroys one of her library books, prompting her to put superglue around the rim of his hat and fix it to his head. At school, Matilda learns of Miss Trunchbull's cruel punishments, including Chokey: a tiny cupboard lined with sharp objects in which she locks disobedient children for hours ('Chokey Chant'). Matilda sees Miss Trunchbull spin a small girl around by her pigtails and throw her across the playing field. Meanwhile, Miss Honey decides to visit the Wormwoods to express her recommendation that Matilda be put in an advanced class. She meets Mrs. Wormwood and her dance partner Rudolpho. It soon becomes apparent that Mrs. Wormwood does not care about her daughter's intelligence, and she mocks Miss Honey and Matilda's interest in books and intellect ('Loud'). Alone outside the Wormwood's house, Miss Honey is desperate to help Matilda but feels powerless to do so ('This Little Girl').
Matilda tells Mrs. Phelps more about the acrobat and the escapologist. The acrobat's sister, a former world champion hammer-thrower who loved to scare small children, has arranged their performance. The escapologist announces that the performance has been cancelled because the acrobat is pregnant. The crowd is thrilled but the acrobat's sister is furious at the prospect of refunding the crowd's money and produces a contract binding them to perform the act or go to jail. At school, Bruce Bogtrotter, a boy in Matilda's class, has stolen a slice of Miss Trunchbull's personal chocolate cake. Miss Trunchbull punishes Bruce by forcing him to eat the entire cake in front of the class, who bravely support him ('Bruce'). After Bruce has finished the cake, the class celebrates his success but Miss Trunchbull drags Bruce away to the Chokey.
Mr. Wormwood advises the audience against reading in favour of watching television ('Telly'). Lavender, a girl in Matilda's class, tells the audience that she is going to put a newt in Miss Trunchbull's jug of water later on in the show. The children gather and sing about their hopes for when they grow up ('When I Grow Up'). Matilda resolves to end Miss Trunchbull's cruelty. She tells Mrs. Phelps more of the story of the acrobat and the escapologist. Bound by their contract, they perform their feat, which goes well until the last moment when the acrobat is fatally injured, living just long enough to give birth to a girl. The escapologist invites the acrobat's sister to move in with him to help look after his daughter. Unknown to the escapologist, the girl's aunt is secretly cruel to her, forcing her to perform menial tasks and abusing her verbally and physically.
Mr. Wormwood returns home from work pleased because he has sold his worn-out cars to the wealthy Russians, having used an automatic drill to wind back their speedometers. Matilda is annoyed at her father's deceit and scolds him, which angers him and he locks her in her bedroom. That night, Matilda continues the story of the acrobat and the escapologist. After years of cruelty, the aunt's rage has grown; one day she beats the child, locks her in the cellar and goes out. That evening, the escapologist returns home early and discovers the extent of the aunt's cruelty. As he comforts his daughter, he promises her he will always be there for her. Filled with rage, he runs out to find the aunt but is never seen again ('I'm Here').
The next day, Miss Trunchbull forces Miss Honey's class to undergo a gruelling physical education lesson ('The Smell of Rebellion'). Miss Trunchbull discovers the newt in her jug; she accuses one of the boys, Eric, who has already riled her during the lesson. She starts to punish him. Matilda scolds Miss Trunchbull for being a bully. Miss Trunchbull verbally abuses Matilda, but Matilda discovers she can move objects with her mind ('Quiet'). She tips over the water jug and the newt lands on Miss Trunchbull, and climbs up her leg. After Miss Trunchbull leaves Matilda demonstrates her powers to Miss Honey, who is surprised and invites Matilda to her house for tea. On the way Matilda admits that her father is not proud of her and calls her names.
Miss Honey tells Matilda of her cruel and abusive aunt, who looked after her as a child after her parents died. When Miss Honey first became a teacher, her aunt produced a bill detailing everything Miss Honey consumed as a child, along with other expenses, and forced her to sign a contract binding her to pay it all back. Desperate to escape, Miss Honey found refuge in an old farm shed which she moved into and lives in abject poverty. Despite this, Miss Honey finds beauty in her meagre living conditions ('My House'). As Miss Honey tells her story, she produces a scarf which Matilda recognises from her story of the acrobat and the escapologist—which she realises is the true story of Miss Honey's childhood, and that her wicked aunt is Miss Trunchbull.
Back at school, Miss Trunchbull forces the children to take a spelling test; anyone who misspells a word will be sent to Chokey. The children fail to misspell a single word, so Miss Trunchbull invents a word in order to be able to punish Lavender. As Lavender is about to be taken to Chokey, her classmates deliberately misspell simple words, telling her she cannot send them all to Chokey. However, Miss Trunchbull has built many more Chokeys. Matilda uses her powers to write on the blackboard and convinces Miss Trunchbull that it is the ghost of Miss Honey's father, demanding that she gives his daughter back her house or he will get her. Miss Trunchbull runs from the school screaming and the children celebrate their freedom ('Revolting Children').
At the library, Miss Honey and Mrs. Phelps relay the aftermath of the events. A few days after Miss Trunchbull ran away, Miss Honey's parents' will has been found; they left all their money and their house to her. Miss Trunchbull is never seen again and Miss Honey becomes the new headmistress of the school. Matilda cannot use her powers again and Miss Honey is sad that a child who has helped others this way is stuck in an unloving home. The Wormwoods arrive at the library in a panic, telling Matilda that she must leave with them because they are fleeing to Spain. The wealthy Russians Mr. Wormwood was dealing with are the Russian Mafia, who are unhappy about being sold broken cars. Miss Honey asks if Matilda can stay with her, but the mafia arrive before a decision can be made. Sergei, the head of the Mafia, is impressed and moved by Matilda's intellect and respect, and he agrees not to harm the Wormwoods providing he never has to deal with Mr. Wormwood again ('This Little Girl Reprise'). Mr. Wormwood agrees to let Matilda live with Miss Honey. ('When I Grow Up Reprise')
#Not present on any of the cast recordings except the ITunes exclusive extended American cast recording
The instrumentation uses a ten-to-thirteen-piece orchestra, including keyboards, reeds, brass, strings and percussion. The performances run 2 hours and 40 minutes, including one interval. The "Overture" is included in the Broadway production only while the "Entr'acte" was only used in the London production where it has now been cut apart from the final bars which lead into "When I Grow Up".
The cast album recorded by the original Stratford company was released on CD in September 2011 and a month later as a Digital Download. It features a hidden spoken track which follows "When I Grow Up" (Reprise). This is the full version speech that is heard in part, before, during and after "Quiet" in the showA new Original Broadway cast album was released on 22 September 2013 as a CD. This contains more tracks than the UK recording and includes "The Chokey Chant". The deluxe version features Matilda's stories of the Acrobat and the Escapologist, the song "Perhaps a Child" sung by Sergei, which was cut from the show early on in the Stratford previews due to time constraints, and "Naughty" with all four Broadway Matildas singing.
Principal roles and original cast members
Notable West End replacementsMatilda – Isobelle Molloy, Chloe Hawthorn, Lara Wollington
Miss Trunchbull – David Leonard, Alex Gaumond
Miss Honey – Gina Beck
Mr Wormwood – Steve FurstNotable Broadway replacementsMatilda - Gabriella Pizzolo, Brooklyn Shuck, Fina Strazza
Miss Trunchbull – Craig Bierko, Christopher Sieber
Miss Honey – Jill Paice
Mrs Phelps – Natalie Venetia Belcon
Mr Wormwood – Matt Harrington
Mrs Wormwood – Amy Spanger
Michael Wormwood – Alex BrightmanPlanned film adaptation
In June 2013, Tim Minchin said a future film adaption was being planned. Minchin said during an interview, "We just got [the show] up in New York, there's a touring version that is meant to be going on in America, concurrently the English version is up, there's a film that will probably be made in the next 4 or 5 years and all this sort of stuff." Mara Wilson, who played Matilda in the original 1996 film adaptation of Dahl's novel, has expressed an interest in having a cameo in a film version if asked. On 15 November 2013, in an article in the Daily Mail it was revealed that Dennis Kelly, who won the Tony for Best Book for Matilda, will write the movie's script, with Minchin penning any additional music required and Warchus, returning to direct. The movie will be released in 2019 at the earliest, due to a Broadway contract stipulating that any film version cannot be released before six years have expired following the show's opening there.
2010 RSC Stratford production
Michael Billington, writing for The Guardian, gave the musical four stars out of five. He praised the adaptation of the book, the "ebullient music and lyrics", the direction, the stage design and the performances—especially Bertie Carvel as Miss Trunchbull. The Independent also gave the show four out of five stars and said, "The Royal Shakespeare Company has struck gold with this wildly entertaining musical ... Kelly's clever adaptation and the witty, intricate songs by ... Minchin create a new, improved version of Dahl's story ... Warchus's wondrously well-drilled production finds just the right balance between gleeful grotesque humour and heart-warming poignancy."Charles Spencer, writing for The Daily Telegraph awarded the show all five stars and praised the "splendidly witty, instantly hummable songs, dazzling choreography, a cast of impossibly cute and delightful children and a fantastic star turn from Bertie Carvel ... [Kelly's] script has both deepened the emotion of Dahl's story while adding loads of splendid jokes of his own", and concluded, "It is funny, heart-warming, and bang-on target". Matt Wolf of The Arts Desk said: "I was struck by the sight of many a child grinning as openly as their adult companions were wiping away tears". Henry Hitchings of the London Evening Standard also praised the performances, direction and design and commented on Minchin's "witty songs [in which] he switches between styles with remarkable dexterity". He continued, "There's a playfulness throughout [the book] that proves intoxicating ... In this lovingly created show, Matilda's magic positively sparkles. There's a cleverness in the writing which ensures that, while it appeals to children, there is plenty for adults to savour ... it's blissfully funny."
The reviews of the London performances were also very positive. Julie Carpenter of the Daily Express awarded the show all five stars and called the musical "[g]loriously over the top", and said, "it's an irresistible and ingenious mix of fun, fizz, cruelty, incredible choreography and above all warmth which means we root for the kids from the start. Fantastic." Henry Hitchings' review in the Evening Standard ranked the piece five stars, praising the music and lyrics, book, set design, choreography, direction and performances. The review in The Guardian said, "You'd be a nitwit to miss this hit show." The only complaint in Quentin Letts' five-star review in the Daily Mail was about "overdone amplification". The Stage also gave Matilda five stars, as did Spencer, writing again for The Telegraph. Confirming his impression of the 2010 production, he wrote about the West End transfer:
"I suspect it will delight audiences for years to come ... [Kelly's] script actually improves and deepens Dahl's original ... [Minchin's] smashing score ... combines take-home melodies with delicious lyrical wit in songs that consistently develop both the plot and our understanding of the characters. There is an exuberant sense here of two writers who have clicked together ... [Matilda] so wittily excoriates the cruelty and crassness of our age ... Warchus's thrilling, warm-hearted production, exuberantly designed by Rob Howell and with pin-sharp choreography by Peter Darling, constantly combines comedy with a sense of wonder. The children [and the adult performances are 'hilarious' (Bailey), 'memorable' (Walker and Kaye) and 'touchingly sweet' (Ward)] ... But the star turn is Bertie Carvel".
The Financial Times, The Times and The Sunday Times each awarded the show four stars out of five, but found little to criticise.Ben Brantley, writing for The New York Times, called the adaptation "a sweet and sharp-witted work of translation, which ... turns dark and sodden anxieties into bright and buoyant fantasies [that address] a raging thirst these days for [such] tonics". A year after the show opened, Time Out gave the production four stars out of five, noting the departure of Carvel and calling the show "a little too long and, dramatically, a tad wayward", but nevertheless "wise, wicked, glorious fun."
Most of the New York critics gave the Broadway transfer their highest marks. Brantley wrote: "Matilda works with astonishing slyness and grace to inculcate us with its radical point of view. [It] is about words and language, books and stories, and their incalculable worth as weapons of defense, attack and survival ... Above all it's an exhilarating tale of empowerment". He also said the child actors "strengthen their diction" so that the "tasty lyrics" could be clearly heard. Richard Zoglin, in Time magazine said that the show is "a fresh start for the Broadway musical" with "a score that seems all but woven into the scenery—simple but distinctive tunes ... intricate lyrics ... Every element of the show seems hand-crafted and right". He said that director Warchus "lets the characters go gloriously over the top (the way children see them), but also brings a hushed intensity". He also said that the second act "runs a bit too long" and that "the combination of shrill child voices, British accents and heavy miking causes many of the lyrics to get muddled". Elisabeth Vincentelli's review in the New York Post said, "Once in a blue moon, a show comes out blazing and restores your faith in Broadway. Matilda The Musical is that show." David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter said the stage show captured "the unique flavor of Roald Dahl's classic 1988 children's novel", and added,"this funhouse fairy tale is by turns riotous and poignant, grotesque and menacing, its campy comic exaggeration equaled only by its transporting emotional power".David Cote, in Time Out New York wondered whether the show was too English for Broadway tastes; he wrote, "Matilda is a kids' musical, not a musical that happens to be about a kid. As such, its attractions may be limited to younger spectators and die-hard Dahl fans. That would be a pity, since Matilda is wickedly smart and wildly fun". A review in USA Today said the show tries too hard to be clever, but it is affecting and enchanting. Of the British papers reviewing the transfer, The Telegraph gave the show four stars out of five, and said, "There's a harder-edged quality to the New York staging: the general tenor is louder and more exaggerated, and the Gilbertian finesse of [the] astonishing lyrics didn't translate for my companion ... But the tremendous heart and intelligence of the piece remains undimmed." A review by Brendan Lemon in the Financial Times also gave the piece four stars out of five.
Awards and nominations
"A Novel Approach," by Keith Loria, "Backstage" column, Make-Up Artist magazine, Number 102, June/July 2013, pp 74–75, Key Publishing Group, Vancouver, Washington, US. A two-page article with three color photos discussing the musical's make-up and hair/wig requirements for the New York and London productions, with quotes by key personnel.External links
Matilda The Musical at the Internet Broadway Database
Matilda the Musical Philadelphia