Matilda the Musical, 23/05/2018; a review.

I saw 'Matilda the Musical' at the Cambridge Theatre on Wednesday, the 23rd of May. This show has been in the West End for almost 7 years now, after opening in October 2011, and is currently booking until February 2019. It's safe to say it's a West End staple, at this point. The RSC (one of my all-time favourite companies) absolutely nailed it with this one. 

(source: Matilda Musical UK)

Matilda the Musical tells the story of a young girl of incredible intelligence who is determined to change her own story, even if it means being a little bit naughty...

A funny and sharp book by Dennis Kelly and original songs by Australian comedian Tim Minchin add a new dimension to this children’s favourite.
Rather than being derivative of the original tale, Matilda the Musical adds new depth to the story.
There’s all the nastiness of Dahl’s novel, with a little girl whizzed across stage by her pigtails and a boy made to eat a giant chocolate cake, but this production also revels in the consolation offered by books and the transformative power of the imagination.
(source: From the Box Office

(source: Matilda Musical UK)

Matthew Warchusproduction is witty and intelligent as well as exuberant and big-hearted.
Matilda the Musical is a fantastic depiction of the disorder of childhood and the importance of making one’s own way in the world.
Backed by sensationally creative sets and props and an extraordinary cast of child and adult actors, this musical truly sets Dahl’s story alight. 

(source: Matilda Musical UK)

I remember first hearing about this show, many years ago, and thinking (as I'm sure everyone my age did) 'OoOoh, that was my favourite book and film when I was a kid!' I made a note to check it out when it had been running for a while, maybe...then I found out that Tim Minchin was making the music for the show. And then suddenly I had to see it immediately. 

Getting Tim Minchin, the genius Aussie with the best hair, on board to write songs was definitely the best decision made when creating this show. His usual comedy is obviously a little 'risky', dark and controversial...but his melodies and witty lyrics were brilliantly applied in this soundtrack. I was so happy hearing the music throughout the production, and being able to see how much the kids themselves loved singing every song. 

(source: Matilda Musical UK)

It's a tough call, but I think my favourite song on the cheeky and witty soundtrack is 'When I Grow Up'. Closely followed by 'School Song' and 'Revolting Children'. The kids' excitement and earnest energy when performing each of these numbers was so evident and inspiring. 

(source: Matilda Musical UK)

I’ll be honest, I was beyond baffled when watching the cast of kids in this show. Because, quite simply, how can you be that young and that talented!? Seriously, these feisty little creatures were an unstoppable force onstage; they nailed every musical number, but were also word perfect when delivering lines in the quieter scenes. They had the audience yelling along when they finally stood up to the biggest bully in the school yard, and silently weeping when they sang sweetly about growing up, and all the magical things that awaited them in life... 

And then the older kids were pretty rad, too. I loved their harsh cynicism, born of too many years spent under the rule of the evil Ms Trunchbull in their shambolic school. 

(source: Matilda Musical UK)

My favourite character was, shockingly, Agatha Trunchbull. She has got to be the most challenging and complicated role for a man in today's West End, and David Shannon absolutely slayed at it. Her sneers were terrifying, her spittle flew all over the shop and the sincerity of every insult she fired at the kids ('losers', 'vermin', 'creeps') made me flinch...then giggle. 

I also loved David Birch's Mr Wormwood. I had no idea he was covering the role yesterday (FYI theatre fans, follow @WestEndCovers for all the updates on who's playing whom in London shows each day/night!)

Finally, the biggest shout-out goes to Olivia Wells, our Matilda. Her delivery of each line was spot on, her crystal clear voice broke my heart multiple times, and my goodness her face and general being was just precious. 

(source: Matilda Musical UK)

Without a doubt, my favourite scene in this show was the fateful Phys Ed class with the Trunchbull. I also loved any/all scenes with Mrs Wormwood and Rudolpho posturing every which way. Oh, and Matilda's scenes with Mrs Phelps were beyond lovely. 

(source: Matilda Musical UK)

Shout-out to Rob Howell, the set and costume designer, for his fabulous work dressing the stage and the cast. I was so happy to walk into the theatre and see the infamous, cheery set made of enormous alphabet blocks. I also adored the aforementioned Mrs Phelps, played by Keisha Amponsa Banson, whose character was as big and vibrant as her outfit. 

Another big yell for Paul Kieve (credited for 'illusion') and anyone else involved in pulling off the amazing feats of trickery throughout this production; the spinning and throwing of Amanda Thripp, the chocolate cake being demolished by Bruce Bogtrotter, and the entire Escapologist/Acrobat fairy tale...I was truly tricked and delighted by every twist and turn. The scene changes were slick af, too. 

(source: Matilda Musical UK)

This show is one of London's very best. I'd go weekly, if I could; every child needs this magical injection of joy, and I expect every adult out there could learn from the messages in its story and songs.

Get your tickets now at From the Box Office!


  1. I saw this last night with my two daugters and their two Grandmothers. We were absolutely spellbound, Olivia Wells was quite simply amazing - how somone so young can remember so many lines and deliver them flawlessly is beyond me. Stunning performance!


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