'Matilda' is a mega-funny hit!
LINDA ARMSTRONG Special to the AmNews | 5/23/2013, 2:54 p.m.
"Matilda: The Musical" is a magnificent, marvelous, mega-funny, mega-surprise-filled theatrical experience that the entire family will enjoy and cherish instantly. Based on the Roald Dahl story, the new Broadway musical features a delightful book by Dennis Kelly, mesmerizing music and lyrics by Tim Minchin, brilliant direction by Matthew Warchus and the most perfect casting you will see on a Broadway stage.
Dahl and Kelly have created a world where a sweet, little girl genius is not appreciated by her simple parents by whom, it is clear, she was never wanted. Her father wanted a boy, and when he gets mad at her, he calls her "boy." Now why do her parents get mad at her? Because she loves to read and she doesn't enjoy watching mind-numbing television like the rest of the family.
Her parents are shallow and her older brother is an idiot, yet he's the one the father is proud of.
Matilda does find refuge in the library, especially talking to the librarian, Mrs. Phelps, and creating stories to share with her. At age 5, she breezes through Charles Dickens stories and all types of novels. She also finds refuge with her teacher at her new school, Miss Honey. Besides being at odds with her parents, Matilda finds herself at war with the headmistress at her school, Miss Trunchbull. She is a mean women who hates children and enjoys doing cruel things to them, like swinging a girl in the air by her ponytails and then letting her fly!
Sitting in the audience, one can't help but think of the movie version of "Matilda," and how hilarious it was. But, let me tell you, though you may not have thought it possible, the live musical is even better. The songs are hilarious, every scene has you mesmerized. In some instances, you wonder how the director will pull certain moments off.
Casting for this production is absolutely spot-on. One of four girls who play the lead role, Milly Shapiro, is a delightful darling to watch as she deals with idiotic, silly parents and sings about being naughty. Lesli Margherita and Gabriel Ebert are hilarious as Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood--parents who don't realize what they have as an offspring.
Lauren Ward is wonderful as shy, quiet Miss Honey. But it was great to see her become courageous when it came to standing up for Matilda to Miss Trunchbull. Karen Aldridge steals the show at times as the supportive librarian who stops working and takes a seat each time Matilda is ready to continue telling one of her marvelous, creative stories.
I must admit that I saved the best character for last and that is the role of Miss Trunchbull. The role of this massive, cruel, intimidating woman is portrayed amazingly by Bertie Carvel. Though you can see by the face that it is a man, nothing else about the performance is that of a man, from the voice, to the dress to the posture. Carvel carries off the role in such an incredibly funny way. And he is also the master of the facial expressions, many times getting the audience to howl with laughter, just from his facial responses to what was happening among the other characters.
My daughter and I couldn't stop laughing during this unique musical; every aspect of it is perfect! It is also fun to have the actors constantly leaving the stage by going through the audience. They are so close at times, you feel like you can reach out and touch them, but, of course, everyone has the common sense not to do that.
"Matilda: The Musical" is one production that I truly did not want to end. As soon as it was over, my daughter asked, "Can we see it again?" This is one musical you absolutely need to take a young person to see--it is a total blast!
"Matilda: The Musical" is playing at the Shubert Theatre at West 44th Street. For tickets, go to MatildaTheMusical.com.