Australian Dance Reviews

‘Matilda’ is magic

'Matilda the Musical'.
'Matilda the Musical'.

Festival Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre.
26 May 2017.

Who doesn’t love the story of Matilda, the smart, bold and “a little bit naughty” girl who stands up against adversity? Author Roald Dahl is a genius. And so are Denise Kelly and Tim Minchin, who wrote the book, and music and lyrics for the stage musical. Matilda the Musical is a treat for young and old.

The moment you walk into the theatre and see the stage surrounded by blocks of letters of all shapes and sizes, your imagination takes flight, just like Matilda’s.

'Matilda the Musical'.

‘Matilda the Musical’.

The production does not start off slowly. Straight away, we are thrown into a children’s party and a bombastic chorus of “My Mummy Says I’m a Miracle.” Instantly you are laughing, dancing…and cringing. And from that moment on, you are engrossed in this magical story of an engaging little girl, that alights that child inside of us, until the end of the production when you feel so fulfilled by a wonderful production that you just want to cry. We all remember a time when we were told we couldn’t do something, or that we weren’t good enough. But were we as bold as this inspiring little character?

The music, lyrics and the choreography are masterful and full of emotion and hilarity. This musical tickles you and delights. Tim Minchin is quoted as saying, “I think theatre should always aim to make its audience laugh and cry, unless there’s a really good reason why not. Stories are best when they are a bit like roller coasters, with highs and lows, twists and turns, a good bit of fear and the significant risk that someone might vomit. Matilda has all these things, making it the perfect story for a stage musical.”

'When I Grow Up' in 'Matilda the Musical'. Photo by James Morgan.

‘When I Grow Up’ in ‘Matilda the Musical’. Photo by James Morgan.

Minchin, I couldn’t agree more!

Matilda is full of strong dance numbers and many moments of cleverly crafted movement. The swing scene in “When I Grow Up” is triumphant, and the School Song, complete with clever lyrics and lit up letters, all while climbing and jumping off the school gates, is a highlight. The school children are so dynamic and hard hitting in every scene, particularly as they sing “Revolting Children”, jumping on and off their school desks and punching the air. There is so much talent bursting out of these young little artists! And the dancer inside me was delighted to see some hard hitting salsa, which I didn’t expect. Oh, and let’s not forget the arabesques on scooters!

The Australian cast were outstanding. The Matilda at our performance was Izellah Connelly. She is adorable and immensely talented. All of the children, lead performers and adult cast made me proud to be part of Australia’s performing arts industry. Australia’s got talent!

'Miracle' in 'Matilda the Musical'. Photo by James Morgan.

‘Miracle’ in ‘Matilda the Musical’. Photo by James Morgan.

If you don’t have tickets yet, hurry up and get yours. Matilda must be seen. It is one of the best musicals to ever tour Australia. Make sure to take your kids. They will be taken on a magical journey they will never forget, and surely become the next generation of theatre lovers.

By Deborah Searle of Dance Informa.

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