For months already South Africa have eagerly been waiting for Matilda the musical to land on our shores and more specifically to open at the Teatro in Montecasino. The musical which is based on the well-known book of the same name features music and lyrics written by Tim Minchin and a book adapted by Dennis Kelly. The musical originally opened on the West End in 2011 and moved on to Broadway in 2013. Unfortunately, the show closed on Broadway in 2017 however it still remains open in London.
The story of little Matilda who loves to read is considered a much loved classic and anyone who has read the book or seen the movie will agree that there is something magical about this story. I always find it so wonderful how a story can be transformed into so many platforms and each one can pick up a different message in a different way. After hearing about the musical for ages now and being familiar with the music, I was very excited to finally see the Tony award-winning show.
Walking into the theatre my first thought was ‘Wow! What a set!’ The set is made up of a number of blocks which all make up the marquee of the stage. The blocks are fascinating and the longer you stare at them for, the more there is to see. As you look at the set design it seems like words, phrases and colours are popping out at you. It really is a piece of art. What’s more is that this theme of building blocks, letters and squares is carried throughout the entire show with every piece of set following in the square format. For me, the set and the way in which it was used was the star of the show. The way the characters interact with the set and the different blocks throughout their performances really stood out for me and was completely captivating.
The show is primarily about Matilda, a little girl, who unfortunately is not given the love and care which she deserves. Her family treat her like an idiot when in fact, she is cleverer than them all. Given the topic, one can imagine how many children need to be involved in such a production. THE CHILDREN IN THIS SHOW ARE PHENOMENAL, ESPECIALLY LITTLE MATILDA.
The main role is shared between three little girls, Lilla Fleischmann, Kitty Harris and Morgan Santo. Our performance starred Kitty Harris and OH MY GOSH is she one little powerhouse! I could simply not get over her performance. She is so young and yet her talent surpasses so many adults I have watched over the years. Bear in mind that this show was not written in a ‘child-friendly’ manner. The choreography, script and overall demands of the show are extremely complex and any child who is able to keep up with a show like this has a long road ahead of only successes in my eyes.
The entire cast was brilliant but especially the children. I enjoyed watching these little humans perform their roles with such confidence, enjoyment and passion so much. Seeing these children on stage in such a way really added a whole level of depth to the show as a whole. The adults also put on great performances however, I do slightly feel that they were overshadowed by these unbelievable children. Having said that, I LOVED Claire Taylor’s portrayal of Mrs Wormwood. I thought she was so funny and even though her character is positioned as one of the antagonists, I really came to enjoy our time together while she was on stage.
I have been a long time fan of Bethany Dickson and really enjoy watching her on stage. This occasion was no different. I love the truth which she brings to every character which she is handed and I always find that her performances are so relatable. She played Miss Honey with such grace and poise that when she came out victorious I was very very happy.
Personally, I enjoyed the show very much and even shed a few tears (the music is that beautiful) however, I did hear a few mixed reviews. Mainly from people who had not been exposed to the Matilda story before. I must acknowledge that Roald Dahl told stories in ways which can be difficult for everyone to grasp. No story is completely universal and I feel that his writing, in particular, deserves a special kind of understanding which not everyone possesses. Nonetheless, the production had something for everyone and even if one did not grasp the story completely, the wonderful special effects and the magnificent score was able to keep them entertained and happy.
This show is going to go down as one of my favourites and yes, I have listened to the soundtrack every day since. Congratulations to the entire cast and crew, you have all outdone yourselves!
The show is on at Montecasino until the 2 December and moves to Cape Town until 13 January 2019. Tickets are available from Computicket and are selling out fast!
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