We all know what it is like to be berated by a bully. Whether it is in the workplace, in a club, or at school, Matilda is the ultimate tale of bullying and how to defy the odds and face one’s oppressor. Based on the book by Roald Dahl, Matilda, this musical follows the story of a young girl named Matilda as she battles her way past unloving parents and unforgiving headmistresses. Throughout her journey, she inspires her peers and mentors to take a stand for what they believe in and defend themselves even though it might be terrifying.
Matilda’s set truly captures the essence of childhood. The backdrops and proscenium are comprised of a wide variety of blocks, some of which have letters inside them and others are left empty. They are kind of like the building blocks many of us played with as children. All of the technical aspects incorporate bold colors of all shades and make it seem as if the show is being told through the eyes of a child.
The choreography for Matilda is extremely stylized, consisting of jagged, sharp, precise movements and extremely athletic dances. The choreography is performed crisply and flawlessly. Every character’s movements, when not in a musical number, maintain the same feeling of exaggeration, and at times look completely planned out. While unnatural, the movement does play into the larger than life feel of the show and child like perception. However many of the creative choices didn’t make sense to the overall plot of the show and were unpleasantly jarring. For example, when the Trunchbull reveals the chokees that she has made for every single child in the school, the show went from an old classroom to the latest Mission Impossible movie as green lasers shot down on the stage. Also, the Russian mafia makes an appearance at the end of the show, which while funny, was very sudden and seemed out of place.
Every character had a different accent, which was quite distracting. There was no consistency. Some were british, others were cockney, and some people had no accent at all! Establishing a consistent dialect would have really grounded the show in at least one element of reality and made it all the more powerful. The technical elements of the show seemed to run smoothly overall. Unfortunately, the microphones did cut out or made loud static sounds often.
The highlight of Matilda was the individual performances and the comedy. Matilda (Jenna Weir) was adorable and marched around the stage with command and authority. While small in size, her frazzled hair and booming personality was enough to combat the looming Ms. Trunchbull (Dan Chameroy). The contrast between the carefree rebellious children and the uptight Ms. Trunchbull provided for some of the show’s funniest moments. The other comical moments came mainly from Mr. Wormwood (Matt Harrington) and Mrs. Wormwood whose robust characters were just too silly to ignore.
Despite the obvious technical and plot related issues, the show was performed well and highly entertaining. The perfect show to go see as a family.