Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Matilda the Musical

Event: Matilda the Musical
Cambridge Theatre, London

By popular demand, I've decided to write another post related to Roald Dahl. In the last three years since Ways to Read began, the most popular post has been (and still is, surprisingly) the one about Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake

So anyway: the musical adaptation of Roald Dahl's novel Matilda is very funny. Even my friend, who doesn't enjoy musicals usually, really liked this one. Cambridge Theatre is not a bad venue, though some of the higher (aka cheap) seats are quite steep and not for the faint of heart.

The story is about a smart little girl who's not appreciated by her family. She attends a school that has a lovely teacher but a horrid and evil headmistress. The music is great and the lyrics are sharp and humourous, all thanks to Tim Minchin. I don't always like his style of quirky/black comedy but in Matilda, there's a good combination of dark humour and a childlike sense of hope. This is important since this musical is primarily aimed at children. 

We went to a Sunday matinee, and about 80% of the audience are children. That can get slightly annoying when they start whining, kicking the seat in front, or singing along off tune ... but it adds an extra layer of irony because the musical starts off with spoiled schoolchildren on stage singing about how great (and spoiled) they are ... and the children in the audience sing along. Ha. 

The songs are quite catchy. I'd say the style is rather like the Wicked musical - very jarring at times but it works in this context. My favourite numbers are 'Miracle', 'When I Grow Up' (see top clip), and 'School Song' (above), which cleverly incorporates the ABCs into the song. The stage setup is also very creative and I particularly liked the scene changes and use of space.

Is it well-adapted? Yes! The storyline changes slightly to accommodate the parallel backstory of another character other than Matilda, but in order to keep the suspence, Tim Minchin creatively made Matilda imagine a fairytale that eventually turned out to be true. I can't say anymore because I don't want to spoil the story in case you haven't read the book (or seen the film). 

The tickets are constantly sold out well in advance, so I'd advise booking at least two months ahead. 

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