I have seen 'Matilda: The Musical' in the West End, twice. I recently took my little sis to see it for her birthday (the full timeline of the day of surprises I arranged can be found RIGHT HERE) and I not only remembered how truly magical it was but I also got to experience her reactions as she watched it for the very first time. That was rather special. At one point the hysterical green-haired Mr Wormwood locked eyes with me (as we were in Row D, we were prey to actors' gazes and I was delighted about that) and I realised I was grinning, my mouth agape in surprised joy. I then glanced at my sis, and saw her expression of pure wide-eyed shock and amazement. It made my heart happy.
Okay right, so, I have decided to push this musical on y'all now. Here are six reasons you simply must see Matilda: The Musical!
The first time I saw the show in the West End, I believe it was the beginning of Craige Els' turn as the wicked headmistress. In March I saw his understudy, Oliver Brooks, and holy effing moly he was sublime. I could hardly believe he was an understudy, to be honest. Both men took on the challenge of this hideously complicated and demanding role, and let me tell you they completely slayed. I both hated and loved Trunchbull as she marched around the stage, sneering at the kids and declaring them all 'losers' and 'vermin' time and time again.
There are children in this show, under 10 years old, who have more talent bursting from them at that tender age than I will ever in my entire life. They are goals. The lovely thing is that although I'm sure working with kiddies all day is challenging at times, you wouldn't know it. They give 110% to every performance (based on the 2 I've seen and all the times my friends have gone to watch, plus their guest appearances on TV shows), and they have fun each time. It's not a chore for them, it's not work, and yet it's the beginning of their epic careers in theatre and music. I do often think to myself 'how on earth do they remember every line and dance move?! When I was their age I couldn't even remember my PE kit twice a week for school...'
The best sub-plot – or so it seems – a beautiful yet tragic story told by Matilda to her librarian pal Mrs Phelps (played by Sharlene Whyte in London at present, who my generation will know from 'The Story of Tracy Beaker' on CBBC – she is magical). I mustn't spoil anything, but it's a real gorgeous spectacle.
The set and staging is unreal. All the colourful letters on blocks and the swings and the bookshelves and the phys ed equipment oh, lordy. Every scene change is so slick, too!
The Cambridge Theatre is packed with caring and excitable people on staff – all my experiences in their box office, with the ushers and the ice cream sellers and the guard-type humans standing outside, have been totally lovely. They're almost as excited about the show as we all are! Having friends who work in theatre for experience in their Drama degrees and courses, I know enthusiasm is the most important part of the job.
Oh, and I won't spoil anything, but I do not envy the cleaners after each show. Messy work!
The messages in the music.
I could go on and on about the delightful and important meanings behind each song – every one of them has a sweet background, a keen delivery and a heartfelt message. The main theme of the show, 'Naughty', is all about rewriting the rubbish story you've been given in life: just because you find that life's not fair it, doesn't mean that you just have to grin and bear it, if you always take it on the chin and wear it, nothing will change! And: even if you're little you can do a lot you, mustn't let a little thing like little stop you!
Then the song 'Revolting Children' is a complete and utter riot towards the end, again blessing us with ingenious words: we won't forget the day we fought for the right to be a little bit naughty // never again will the Chokey door slam, never again will we be bullied and never again will I doubt it when my mummy says I'm a miracle – never again!
I just can't even. I've watched countless interviews with Tim Minchin when he's asked about his creative process and his desires for the show when he wrote the songs, and each time he's confirmed my suspicions that this show is for the kids – the kid in all of us – and it promotes all the good things.
The child in you.
On that last note – come see this show for that kid you used to be, or maybe still secretly are, or now have! As a child I idolised this girl, Matilda. I watched the film on video over and over. When I last saw the show it was a Wednesday matinee and so the audience was crammed with kids in uniform, on school trips. That was the biggest treat, hearing the kids in the back whooping and applauding and giggling throughout. I also was happy to be watching it in celebration of my sister's 18th birthday. Because even though she's now technically an adult (as am I supposedly, at almost 23...) she can still be a kid with the best of 'em.
All images (except last one), from uk.matildathemusical.com.