I Say… Matilda, You’re a Miracle
We have dealt with a lot this season. The first three shows of the Orpheum’s 2016-2017 season were like a sucker punch to the gut in terms of sadness, shock factor, and emotional turbulence. After that, it was a parade of mediocracy that prevented a true connection to be formed between the actors and the audience, whether the fault was the actors or the plot itself. Matilda, directed by Matthew Warchus, was like a breath of fresh air. Witty, playful, and yet still capable of dealing with dark themes, Matilda is a must see at the Orpheum until April 2nd.
As with many child-run shows, Matilda is played by several young actresses. On Tuesday night, the spit fire character of Matilda was played by Jenna Weir, who’s mussed hair and powerful voice made her an unlikely heroine of her own story. All the characters managed to stand out and have their own moments in the spotlight, working together like a seamless, welloiled machine. They played off of each other, especially in the case of Mrs. And Mr. Wormwood (played by Darcy Stewart and Matt Harrington). Trunchbull (Dan Chameroy) was also a humorous and unique portrayal of the popular children’s book villain. All together, the child-run cast had strong vocals, even if the speed of the songs made them hard to understand at times.
The most incredible part of the show was the choreography. It was sharp, impressive, and fun to watch. It made not understanding the lyrics better because it was so fun to focus on the extreme dance moves. Songs like “School Song” and “Loud” stood out in particular. There was no particular number that did not impress, and the set matched that. The beautiful blocks stacked on top of each other framed the stage and drew the eye in to the main action. Each scene change was composed of similar blocks, and yet looked as though it were set in an entirely different actor. Choreographer Peter Darling and Set/Costume Designer Rob Howell set the show above the rest.
Matilda is a show about perseverance. It takes the dark themes of child abuse, bullying, and the defeat of knowledge in the modern world and puts a childlike spin on it, allowing everyone in the audience to leave the show thinking we have seen a fun filled, lighthearted show, and yet our hearts are heavy with the knowledge of what could have been. Matilda has endured years of systematic abuse and neglect, and yet she never lost her sunny demeanor and her belief that there is fairness and righteousness in the world. It is a beautiful, fun spin on Roald Dahl’s classic, and is the most fun I have had at a show this year.