By Narelle Wood
I had heard from some theatre-going friends that Matilda was a sight to behold, a musical experience like no other. They were right; I don’t think there is a word that completely encapsulates the sheer brilliance of this musical.
The musical is based on the famous Roald Dahl children’s book. Matilda (Ingrid Torelli on the night attended), a bright child with a strong sense of fairness and justice, is born into a family that doesn’t appreciate her, and to make matters worse must suffer the tyranny of the head mistress, Miss Trunchbull (James Millar). Thankfully Matilda finds solace in her books and stories as well as friends such as Mrs Phelps the librarian (Cle Morgan), Violet (Kathleen Lawlor) and Miss Honey (Elise McCann).
Under the direction of Matthew Warchus the acting, timing and use of stage melds into a seamless and flawless performance; and this was the first preview. There are so many standout performances in this show that it is difficult to name them all. The performances of Daniel Frederiksen, Marika Aubrey and Daniel Raso completely personify the hideous Wormwood family. Millar doesn’t overplay Trunchbull so the character is a believable albeit caricatured evil head mistress and Torelli is faultless in her portrayal of Matilda.
The adult ensemble was also brilliant, transforming from the adult parts to the big kids at school with ease. The kid ensemble was simply astonishing; the future of musical theatre in Melbourne is definitely safe if the talent of these kids are anything to go by. Daniel Stow who played Bruce Bogtrotter with awesome skill, delivered some of the best comedic moments.
Dennis Kelly’s adaptation is so intelligently written that it not only captures the humour and satirical nature of Roald Dahl, but also hints at some of Dahl’s more subtle social commentary. Comedic musical mastermind Tim Minchin is responsible for the music and lyrics, and each song precisely captures the moment and the character’s personality but often in entirely unexpected ways, with a mixture of humour, sentimentality and irreverence. The orchestration (Christopher Nightingale), choreography (Peter Darling), set (Rob Howell), illusions (Paul Kiev)and lighting (Hugh Vanstone) are amazing; such a sleek use of staging and such clever use of all the theatre tricks and techniques to make the magic of Matilda a reality.
There was not one aspect of this show that I did not enjoy, and not enough superlatives to praise it all. I laughed so much I cried, and so many of the musical numbers gave me goosebumps. If that wasn’t enough, it finished off with one of the most fun encores I’ve ever seen. I have never seen anything quite like Matilda. I’m going again; in fact I would have stayed on the night for an encore performance of the entire show.
Venue: The Princess Theatre, Spring St, Melbourne
Season: From March. Wed & Sun 1pm, Sat 2pm. Wed to Sat 7pm, Sun 6.30pm
Tickets: Starting from Full $85| Conc $69
Image by Manuel Harlan