Matilda the musical: come in as an adult, leave as a naughty maggot (and possibly in love with the doctor)
I was supposed to see Matilda, the musical, last year. But sad things happened, I had to postpone the trip, there were not tickets left… So I had to wait until last night to go. What a worth waiting. I was just taken out of this world for a whole evening, hoping it would never end. If you haven’t seen it yet, or are still hesitating, go, without a doubt in your mind. To me, Matilda is the best musical I’ve ever seen, jumping straight ahead of We Will Rock You (which has always been my all time favourite).
We arrived to the theatre last night and were delighted to see that the square had put its Christmassy clothes on. It was like a preview of the magic we were to experience inside the theatre – only we didn’t know that yet. When we entered the place, heading for our first row seats, we stopped, astonished by the best stage decor that we had ever seen. And if at first we were struggling a bit with the idea of being first row, mostly because my friend and I are quite small, well don’t be like us. In this show, first row is pretty awesome – both in terms of sight (the stage is not that high) and adrenaline rush at some points. Then of course, Matilda started – well it has too, because, that’s the point, isn’t it?
I was happy I had downloaded the soundtrack last week (when I left the School of Rock musical, while downloading that soundtrack too from iTunes so that both discs would become this one month trip soundtrack). That way I could get used to the songs and understand them fully – although I’m telling you, if won’t necessarily give you any precise ideas of what’s gonna happen, especially if you haven’t read the book. I have, though, many times as a child and once again this year, and when I arrived I was still wondering if it would be good an interpretation. It was. It totally was. Of course, a couple things were added to give more context and depth – but I assure you that even as a big fan of the book you’ll love it – but mostly every important scene of the book, you’ll find on the scene, including the Chokey, the cake, the whole Matilda’s parents story that was kept unchanged… After discussing quickly with a few actors after the performance, it appeared that it was indeed very important not to ruin that book, which lots of kids had grew with.
But even before that doubt is dissolved into the singing and dancing and by the sight of the wonderful stage and costumes, you’ll just fall in love with the music. I must admit I actually found some parts scary when I first listened to them. Like, literally, the kids part of Miracle. But then I instantly fell in love with the Doctor’s part (and when I actually saw the Doctor on stage I fell in love straight away and kept my eyes on that sweet, sweet man whenever he was strutting his lovely butt on the stage) and grew fond of every single song (with notable preferences, though, for the dad’s Telly song and Nigel’s Revolting Children, but also Naughty and The Smell of Rebellion).
But then I saw Matilda, the musical, and I just couldn’t pick a favourite scene any more. And I just love every song so much thanks to that perfect direction. Although, I must admit that The Smell of Rebellion and The Hammer take an even more special spot in my heart now that I associate them to their stage scenes and especially to the splendid Craige Els (The Imitation Game, Anna Karenina, Hamlet, The Bletchley Circle, and so much else), playing the most marvelous Headmistress I could have dreamt for. Plus, he was very, very lovely when we met him at the stage entrance. I must tell you I’m not especially one to be that impressed upon meeting famous people – I don’t think I even flinched when Ian McKellen, one of my favourite actors in all times, signed my No Man’s Land program two days ago – but when I saw Craige Els go through that stage door, I felt a bit dizzy, because he really gave so much life to that Roald Dahl’s character, which is so important and the book, and also in the play.
Of course I also stopped Richard Astbury (who played the Doctor) to tell him that I fell in love with the song even before I saw him and now I was in love with him and my mother always said I should marry a doctor so would he marry me? I’m actually not even sure now if he even answered but I think that even he was very gracious about it, it was a no. Michael Begley and Rebecca Thornhill were really accurate and great as Mr and Mrs Wormwood, as well as Bianca Szynal and Sharlene Whyte as (respectively) Miss Honey and Mrs Phelps (and I regret not seeing them at the stage door). And since I don’t want to tell to much of the musical’s story, I won’t say much about Elliot Harper and Laura Tyrer except that they were most gracious and moving. As for the kids, we were particularly touched by « our » Matilda, Sara Sheen, absolutely fantastic (and, if one was to judge by that second video, pretty accurate for the role), and Felix Warren, but of course all of them were so perfect and amazing and right in their roles it would be almost impossible to pick favourites.
We laughed so hard. But so, so hard. Like, probably, I’ve never laughed in my life. Not even caring about laughing too hard, because we were so much into it. It actually really took me out of space and time and I really forgot about everything in my life for these two hours and a half. It was sometimes scary, as any Roald Dahl’s story should be. But only because of the story, actually – I actually completely lied down on my seat when that swing came right above my head and, for really once in my life, thanked God I’m so little. The scenery, the special effets, the music and the lyrics, and the accents and voices of every one and their characters (Bianca Szynal’s voice is really, really lovely and might make tears roll down your cheeks if you’re the sensitive kind – I’m not, I’ve got a heart of ice and no feelings whatsoever, as it should be). I particularly enjoyed that mix of styles in the music, thus creating so many different atmospheres, emotions and reactions, and lots of time, laughter. I think that’s what I remember from that evening, all that laughter. And the fact that when I arrived at the bus stop and took my Oyster out a handful of confetti just flied of my pocket. It made us joke and laugh even more, such a nice image to keep in mind, telling us that one can find joy everywhere (sometimes by being a bit naughty, or not, as you may like it better). « If it’s not right, you have to make it right », they sing. So if you’re not right, go and make yourself right with Matilda the musical. That Matilda is a naughty little girl and so am I but if you’re not and/or don’t like it in other people I must warn you that you’ll leave that theatre a very naughty maggot indeed.