Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical in the West End

Miss Trunchbull admonishes a child in Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical. Credit Manuel Harlan
Miss Trunchbull admonishes a child in Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical. Credit Manuel Harlan

As Roald Dahl’s classic tale continues its US tour, we review the West End show, which is a spectacle of epic proportions.

Miss Trunchbull admonishes a child in Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical. Credit Manuel Harlan
Miss Trunchbull admonishes a child in Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical. Credit Manuel Harlan

Next year marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Roald Dahl, one of Britain’s most prolific children’s storytellers, and what better way to celebrate than by booking tickets to the stage reinvention of one of his most popular tales.

Matilda: The Musical is a production by the Royal Shakespeare Company, from a book by Dennis Kelly and with music and lyrics by comedian Tim Minchin, and has been wowing London audiences for four years.

The show follows the story of Matilda Wormwood, an avid reader who escapes her sad family life into the pages of her favourite books, which feed her imagination. Unwanted by her parents, Matilda’s suffering continues when she starts school and incurs the wrath of the indomitable Miss Trunchbull, who likes to swing little girl by their pigtails – in one gravity-defying scene she does just this to great dramatic effect.

We visited on the first night that a new cast of child actors took over the roles of Matilda and her peers, and with family and friends in the audience it was an emotional night all round.

Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical young cast members
The four actors playing Matilda: Lara McDonnell, Anna-Louise Knight, Lizzie Wells and Evie Hone (right)

Taking the title role was Evie Hone (who shares the role with three other actors) and she stepped into Matilda’s brave shoes with aplomb. Miria Parvin, who plays Matilda’s saviour Miss Honey, has all the warmth you would expect (with a beautiful singing voice to boot) but it is Craige Els as the terrifying (but equally hilarious) Miss Trunchbull who really steals the show.

This rip-roaring stage show has all the markings of an award-winning musical – fantastic songs, great choreography, flawless staging, laugh-out-loud moments, a dose of sentimentality, and of course, an unforgettable story.

It’s sometimes hard to articulate just what made Roald Dahl’s stories so special, but for me it was the humour, the strength of the characters and the steadfast belief that childhood is precious and that children aren’t just here to obey and behave like little adults, but to challenge anything that they see as unfair. This final sentiment is one that Tim Minchin perfectly embodies in his lyrics when Matilda sings: “But nobody else is gonna put it right for me. Nobody but me is gonna change my story. Sometimes you have to be a little bit naughty.”

Matilda The Musical Official Afternoon Tea at Radisson Blu Edwardian Hotel, Mercer Street
Matilda The Musical Official Afternoon Tea at Radisson Blu Edwardian Hotel, Mercer Street

Matilda The Musical is booking at the Cambridge Theatre in London’s West End until 18 December 2016, where you can now combine a theatre trip with a special Matilda The Musical Afternoon Tea next door to the Radisson Blu Edwardian at Scoff & Banter until May 2016, which includes candied newts in its kids selection and prosecco jelly shots for adults. It also serves an exclusive Matilda The Musical cocktail, which is strictly for adults only.

The show is also currently running on Broadway, on tour in the US, and has recently opened in Sydney, Australia.

Related articles

Early birthday present for Britain’s oldest theatre
Theatre in London’s West End
London theatre review: Made in Dagenham
Britain’s best outdoor theatres

Click here to subscribe!

Download BRITAIN Magazine to your mobile today

iOSAppStoreGoogle-PlayNo mobile device? Purchase directly on Zinio for your desktop!

SHARE