Matilda the Musical
|Basis||Matilda by Roald Dahl|
2011 West End
2015 US National Tour
|Awards||Critics' Circle Theatre Award for Best Musical
Theatre Awards UK Best Musical Production 2011
Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Musical
New York Drama Critics' Circle Best Musical
Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical
Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical
Matilda the Musical is a stage musical based on the children's novel of the same name by Roald Dahl. It was written by Dennis Kelly, with music and lyrics by Tim Minchin. The musical's narrative centres on Matilda, a precocious 5-year-old girl who loves reading, overcomes obstacles caused by her family and school, and helps her teacher to reclaim her life. After a twelve-week trial run staged by the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) at Stratford-upon-Avon from November 2010 to January 2011, it received its West End premiere on 24 November 2011 at the Cambridge Theatre and its Broadway premiere on 11 April 2013 at the Shubert Theatre.
Matilda has received widespread critical acclaim and box-office popularity, winning seven 2012 Olivier Awards, including Best New Musical—the most such awards ever won by a single show at the time. As of the 2013 Olivier Awards, the show now jointly holds the record with the play The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, although it still holds the record for most Olivier awards won by a musical. At the 2013 Tony Awards, the show won five awards, including the Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical.
The show is currently running in London's West End and on Broadway in New York, with upcoming national tour in the US from May 2015 and opening in Sydney, Australia in August 2015.
- 1 Productions
- 2 Synopsis
- 3 Musical numbers
- 4 Recordings
- 5 Principal roles and cast members
- 6 Film adaptation
- 7 Critical reception
- 8 Awards and nominations
- 9 References
- 10 Further reading
- 11 External links
Stratford and London
In 2009, the RSC announced its intention to stage a musical adaptation of Matilda, engaging Dennis Kelly as playwright, Tim Minchin as the composer and lyricist, Matthew Warchus as director, Chris Nightingale as orchestrator and music supervision, Rob Howell as set designer and Paul Kieve as illusionist and special effects creator. The musical opened at the Courtyard Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, on 9 December 2010 following previews from 9 November. The show is choreographed by Peter Darling. Bertie Carvel headlined as Miss Trunchbull, with Paul Kaye and Josie Walker as Matilda's parents Mr and Mrs Wormwood, and Lauren Ward as Miss Honey. Three young actresses, Adrianna Bertola, Josie Griffiths and Kerry Ingram, alternated in the title role. The show ended its premiere engagement on 30 January 2011.
In 2011, the musical received its West End debut at London's Cambridge Theatre. The show was originally scheduled to begin previews on 18 October 2011, but because of structural and installation work at the theatre, the start of the performances was delayed until 25 October. The opening night was postponed from 22 November to 24 November. The musical opened in London to uniformly positive reviews; Kaye and Carvel received high praise for their performances. Many of the principal adult cast from the Stratford run reprised their roles in London. Eleanor Worthington Cox, Cleo Demetriou, Sophia Kiely and Kerry Ingram—the only one to reprise her role from Stratford—rotated in the title role.
In October 2011, Matilda won Best Musical and Best Actor (Bertie Carvel) in the Theatre Awards UK, and in November 2011 it won the Ned Sherrin Award for Best Musical as part of The Evening Standard Awards. The production was nominated in all 10 categories for which it was eligible at the 2012 Olivier Awards. The 'Four Matildas' performed "Naughty" at the awards show. Matilda won 7 Oliviers: Best New Musical, Best Director (Warchus), Best Actor in a Musical (Carvel), Best Actress in a Musical (all four Matildas), Best Theatre Choreographer (Darling), Best Set Design (Howell) and Best Sound Design (Baker). This was a record number for any show in the event's 36th year history.
In April 2012, Steve Furst and Haley Flaherty took over the roles of Mr. Wormwood and Miss Honey from Kaye and Ward. Two of the original London Matildas (Ingram and Kiely) were replaced by Jade Marner and Isobelle Molloy (Molloy originally played Amanda in the original London cast before being cast as Matilda). Bertie Carvel left in July 2012 and the role of Miss Trunchbull was filled by David Leonard, although he did not start until the main cast change in August because of injury. At this cast change four new girls took over as Matilda; Lucy-Mae Beacock, Hayley Canham, Chloe Hawthorn and Lara Wollington.
On 19 November 2012, the London cast were invited to perform at the 100th "Royal Variety Performance" for television station ITV which was broadcast live on 3 December. They performed "When I Grow Up" and "Naughty" with Chloe in the lead role, with the other 3 girls appearing in the announcement of the performance.
In March 2013, Hayley Canham left the show and was replaced as Matilda by Elise Blake and Cristina Fray. Lucy-Mae Beacock left in early May 2013. The next cast change occurred in September 2013. This time most of the adult cast changed, along with Chloe Hawthorn who left on 1 September. 2 new Matildas—Lollie McKenzie and Georgia Pemberton—started the following week. Lara Wollington stayed for another four weeks, finishing on 29 September—making her run the longest of any Matilda to date.
Of the Matildas only Lollie stayed during the most recent cast change in March 2014. This cast change started with the departure of Elise Blake on 9 March along with other child cast members. She was replaced as Matilda by Tasha Chapple, in the same week that Cristina Fray also left the show. Two new Matildas, Cara Jenkins and Lottie Sicilia, debuted in the role in the following weeks, on 18 March and 25 March respectively.
On 29 February 2012, the RSC announced the show would transfer to Broadway in Spring 2013; it would still be set in England despite initial pressure for the show to be Americanised. On 19 July 2012, it was announced that the show would open on 11 April 2013 at the Shubert Theatre, with previews commencing on 4 March 2013. Bertie Carvel and Lauren Ward reprised their roles as Miss Trunchbull and Miss Honey. Ted Wilson also continued as Eric. On 15 November 2012, the Associated Press announced that 9-year-old Sophia Gennusa, and 10-year-olds Oona Laurence, Bailey Ryon and Milly Shapiro—making their Broadway debuts—would alternately play Matilda.
The transfer cost US$16 million to produce; it opened as planned on 11 April 2013, with Sophia Gennusa playing the leading role. Small changes were made from the London production; some lyrics were changed to suit American audiences and more scenes used the stalls/orchestra seating area of the theatre. The Broadway production also introduced an overture and pre-show curtain, as of June 2013, because of complaints that the show started late because of the pre show set up.
On 1 September 2013, Carvel and Ward played their final performances, Jill Paice joined the cast as Miss Honey and played her first performance on 3 September. Craig Bierko took over as Miss Trunchbull on 17 September, after recovering from an injury. In October 2013, Matilda broke the box office record for the Shubert Theatre. On 19 November, it was announced that Bierko will not return to the role of Miss Trunchbull due to "medical circumstances", following a shoulder injury sustained during rehearsals. Chris Hoch, understudy for Miss Trunchbull, has been given a contract to perform the role for the duration of Bierko's absence into January.
On 25 November, The Wall Street Journal reported that Tony Award-winning actresses Sophia Gennusa, Oona Laurence, Bailey Ryon and Milly Shapiro will be bowing out of the show "in the next two months". On 11 December, it was announced that Paige Brady, Gabriella Pizzolo, Ripley Sobo and Ava Ulloa will take over the title role from exiting actresses Gennusa, Laurence, Ryon and Shapiro. Brady, Pizzolo and Ulloa will be making their Broadway debuts; Sobo previously appeared in Once. They would begin performances "over the course of the next few weeks". Laurence and Gennusa had their final performances on 14 and 21 December while Ryon and Shapiro had their final performances on 11 and 18 January. Brady and Pizzolo made their debut performances in the title role on 19 and 22 December while Sobo and Ulloa made their debut performances in the role on 12 and 18 January.
On 31 January, it was reported that Christopher Sieber and Matt Harrington would be joining the company as Miss Trunchbull and Mr Wormwood, respectively. Harrington made his debut on 4 March. Sieber would initially join the company on 18 March, but after sustaining a hand injury during rehearsals, would have his debut in the role sometime in April. While Sieber recovered from his injury, understudy Ben Thompson played the role for a limited engagement. Sieber finally stepped into the role on 18 April.
On 1 June 2013, Tim Minchin announced during an interview that the show was preparing for a US national tour. Minchin said, "We just got it up in New York, there’s a touring version that is meant to be going on in America...". On 6 February 2014, it was announced that the tour would begin in 2015 with technical rehearsals and performances at the Shubert Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut before its official launch in May at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles, California. Additional stops include SHN Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco, 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle and AT&T Performing Arts Center in Dallas, with more stops to be announced.
In July 2013, Minchin said that an Australian production is planned for 2015. On 26 February 2014, it was announced that the show will open at the Sydney Lyric Theatre in August 2015. Louise Withers is set to produce the show.
As a chorus of children boast about being their parents' miracles, the ballroom dancing obsessed Mrs. Wormwood gives birth to a baby girl called Matilda. The doctor thinks Matilda is the most beautiful child he has ever seen but Mrs. Wormwood is only worried about a dancing contest she has missed and Mr. Wormwood—a used-car salesman and television addict—dismisses the child as ugly ('Miracle') and also believes the baby to have been a boy - and seemingly unable and unwilling to accept her as a girl. Five years later, Matilda—an avid reader—lives unhappily with her parents and her older, gormless brother Michael. The Wormwoods are oblivious to her ability and frequently mock and verbally abuse her. Matilda adds some of her mother's hydrogen peroxide to her father's hair oil, leaving Mr. Wormwood with bright green hair ('Naughty').
At the local library Matilda tells Mrs. Phelps a story about a world-famous acrobat and escapologist couple who long to have a child but cannot. To distract themselves from their sadness they announce to the world's press that they will perform an exciting and dangerous new act. The next day is Matilda's first day at school ('School Song'). Her teacher Miss Honey is impressed by Matilda's precociousness and ability, so she recommends that Matilda is moved to the top class with the older children ('Pathetic'). However, the child-hating, disciplinarian headmistress Miss Trunchbull dismisses Miss Honey's suggestion and lectures her on the importance of following rules ('The Hammer').
At the Wormwood's house, Mr. Wormwood is frustrated about losing a sale of worn-out cars to a group of rich Russians. He takes his frustration out on Matilda and destroys one of her library books, prompting her to put superglue around the rim of his hat ('Naughty Reprise'). At school, Matilda learns of Miss Trunchbull's cruel punishments, including Chokey; a tiny cupboard lined with sharp objects in which she locks disobedient children for hours ('Chokey Chant'). Matilda sees Miss Trunchbull spin a small girl around by her pigtails and throw her across the playing field. Meanwhile, Miss Honey decides to visit the Wormwoods to express her recommendation that Matilda be put in an advanced class. She meets Mrs. Wormwood and her dance partner Rudolpho. It soon becomes apparent that Mrs. Wormwood does not care about her daughter's intelligence and she mocks Miss Honey's and Matilda's interest in books and intellect ('Loud'). Alone outside the Wormwood's house, Miss Honey is desperate to help Matilda but feels powerless to do so ('This Little Girl').
Matilda tells Mrs. Phelps more about the acrobat and the escapologist. The acrobat's sister, a former world champion hammer-thrower who loved to scare small children, has arranged their performance. The escapologist announces that the performance has been cancelled because the acrobat is pregnant. The crowd is thrilled but the acrobat's sister is furious at the prospect of refunding the crowd's money and produces a contract binding them to perform the act or go to jail. At school, Bruce Bogtrotter, a boy in Matilda's class, has stolen a slice of Miss Trunchbull's personal chocolate cake. Miss Trunchbull punishes Bruce by forcing him to eat the entire cake in front of the class, who bravely support him ('Bruce'). After Bruce has finished the cake, the class celebrates his success but Miss Trunchbull drags Bruce away to the Chokey.
Mr. Wormwood advises the audience against reading in favour of watching television ('Telly'). Lavender, a girl in Matilda's class, tells the audience that she is going to put a newt in Miss Trunchbull's jug of water later on in the show. The children gather and sing about their hopes for when they grow up ('When I Grow Up'). Matilda resolves to end Miss Trunchbull's cruelty. She tells Mrs. Phelps more of the story of the acrobat and the escapologist. Bound by their contract, they perform their feat, which goes well until the last moment when the acrobat is fatally injured, living just long enough to give birth to a girl. The escapologist invites the acrobat's sister to move in with him to help look after his daughter. Unknown to the escapologist, the girl's aunt is secretly cruel to her, forcing her to perform menial tasks and abusing her verbally and physically.
Mr. Wormwood returns home from work pleased because he has sold his worn-out cars to the wealthy Russians, having used an automatic drill to wind back their speedometers. Matilda is annoyed at her father's deceit and scolds him, which angers him and he locks her in her bedroom. That night, Matilda continues the story of the acrobat and the escapologist. After years of cruelty, the aunt's rage has grown; one day she beats the child, locks her in the cellar and goes out. That evening, the escapologist returns home early and discovers the extent of the aunt's cruelty. As he comforts his daughter, he promises her he will always be there for her. Filled with rage, he runs out to find the aunt but is never seen again ('I'm Here').
The next day, Miss Trunchbull forces Miss Honey's class to undergo a gruelling physical education lesson ('The Smell of Rebellion'). Miss Trunchbull discovers the newt in her jug; she accuses one of the boys, Eric, who has already riled her during the lesson. She starts to punish him. Matilda scolds Miss Trunchbull for being a bully. Miss Trunchbull verbally abuses Matilda, but Matilda discovers she can move objects with her mind ('Quiet'). She tips over the water jug and the newt lands on Miss Trunchbull, and climbs up her leg. After Mis Trunchbull leaves Matilda demonstrates her powers to Miss Honey, who is surprised and invites Matilda to her house for tea. On the way Matilda admits that her father is not proud of her and calls her names.
Miss Honey tells Matilda of her cruel and abusive aunt, who looked after her as a child after her parents died. When Miss Honey first became a teacher, her aunt produced a bill detailing everything Miss Honey consumed as a child, along with other expenses, and forced her to sign a contract binding her to pay it all back. Desperate to escape, Miss Honey found refuge in an old farm shed which she moved into and lives in abject poverty. Despite this, Miss Honey finds beauty in her meagre living conditions ('My House'). As Miss Honey tells her story, she produces a scarf which Matilda recognises from her story of the acrobat and the escapologist—which she realises is the true story of Miss Honey's childhood, and that her wicked aunt is Miss Trunchbull.
Back at school, Miss Trunchbull forces the children to take a spelling test; anyone who misspells a word will be sent to Chokey. The children fail to misspell a single word, so Miss Trunchbull invents a word in order to be able to punish Lavender. As Lavender is about to be taken to Chokey, her classmates deliberately misspell simple words, telling her she cannot send them all to Chokey. However, Miss Trunchbull has built many more Chokeys. Matilda uses her powers to write on the blackboard and convinces Miss Trunchbull that it is the ghost of Miss Honey's father, demanding that she gives his daughter back her house or he will get her. Miss Trunchbull runs from the school screaming and the children celebrate their freedom ('Revolting Children').
At the library, Miss Honey and Mrs. Phelps relay the aftermath of the events. A few days after Miss Trunchbull ran away, Miss Honey's parents' will has been found; they left all their money and their house to her. Miss Trunchbull is never seen again and Miss Honey becomes the new headmistress of the school. Matilda cannot use her powers again and Miss Honey is sad that a child who has helped others this way is stuck in an unloving home. The Wormwoods arrive at the library in a panic, telling Matilda that she must leave with them because they are fleeing to Spain. The wealthy Russians Mr. Wormwood was dealing with are the Russian Mafia, who are unhappy about being sold broken cars. Miss Honey asks if Matilda can stay with her, but the mafia arrive before a decision can be made. Sergei, the head of the Mafia, is impressed and moved by Matilda's intellect and respect, and he agrees not to harm the Wormwoods providing he never has to deal with Mr. Wormwood again ('This Little Girl Reprise'). Mr. Wormwood agrees to let Matilda live with Miss Honey. ('When I Grow Up Reprise')
The instrumentation uses a ten-to-thirteen-piece orchestra, including keyboards, reeds, brass, strings and percussion. The performances run 2 hours and 40 minutes, including one interval. The "Overture" is included in the Broadway production only while the "Entr'acte" was only used in the London production where it has now been cut apart from the final bars which lead into "When I Grow Up".
The cast album recorded by the original Stratford company was released on CD in September 2011 and a month later as a Digital Download. It features a hidden spoken track which follows "When I Grow Up" (Reprise). This is the full version speech that is heard in part, before, during and after Quiet in the show A new Original Broadway cast album was released on 22 September 2013 as a CD. This contains more tracks than the UK recording and includes "The Chokey Chant". The deluxe version features Matilda's stories of the Acrobat and the Escapologist, the song "Perhaps a Child" sung by Sergei, which was cut from the show early on in the Stratford previews due to time constraints, and "Naughty" with all four Broadway Matildas singing.
Principal roles and cast members
|Character||Original Stratford actor
|Original West End actor
|Original Broadway actor
|Matilda Wormwood||Adrianna Bertola, Josie Griffiths, Kerry Ingram||Cleo Demetriou, Eleanor Worthington Cox, Sophia Kiely, Kerry Ingram||Sophia Gennusa, Oona Laurence, Bailey Ryon, Milly Shapiro|
|Miss Trunchbull||Bertie Carvel|
|Miss Honey||Lauren Ward|
|Mr Wormwood||Paul Kaye||Gabriel Ebert|
|Mrs Wormwood||Josie Walker||Lesli Margherita|
|Michael Wormwood||Peter Howe||Taylor Trensch|
|Mrs Phelps||Melanie La Barrie||Karen Aldridge|
|Cook||Verity Bentham||Betsy Struxness|
|The Escapologista||Matthew Malthouse||Ben Thompson|
|Sergei||Alistair Parker||John Sanders|
|Henchmen||Marc Antolin & Nick Searle||Thayne Jasperson & Ryan Steele|
|Henchwoman||did not appear||Lucy Thatcher||Tamika Sonja Lawrence|
|The Acrobat||Emily Shaw||Samantha Sturm|
|Teacher||Michael Rouse||Tim Walton||does not appear|
|Doctor||Michael Rouse||Tim Walton||John Arthur Greene|
|Party Entertainer||does not appear||John Sanders|
|Rudolpho||Michael Rouse||Gary Watson||Phillip Spaeth|
|Bruce||Kuan Frye, Jake Bailey & James Beesley||Jake Bailey, James Beesley, Zachary Harris||Jack Broderick
Alternates: Judah Bellamy, Luke Kolbe Mannikus & Sawyer Nunes
|Lavender||Ruby Bridle, Rebecca Stoll & Misty May Tindall||Ruby Bridle, Jemima Eaton & Ellie Simons||Frenie Acoba
Alternates: Erica Simone Barnett, Emma Howard & Heather Tepe
|Amanda||Katie Lee, Jadie-Rose Hobson & Lara Weaver||Lily Laight, Isobelle Molloy & Lucy May Pollard||Beatrice Tulchin
Alternates: Erica Simone Barnett, Ava DeMary, Heather Tepe
|Nigel||Arthur Byrne, Adam Scotland & Jake Pratt||William Keeler, Alfie Manser & Jaydon Vijn||Jared Parker
Alternates: Luke Kolbe Mannikus, Sawyer Nunes, Heather Tepe & Ted Wilson
|Eric||Shivum Gupta, Jack Christou & Toby Murray||Toby Murray, Louis Suc & Ted Wilson||Ted Wilson
Alternates: Luke Kolbe Mannikus, Sawyer Nunes, Jared Parker, Heather Tepe
|Alice||Jessica Daugirda, Ellie Simons & Annabel Parsons||Alicia Gould, Jemima Morgan & Annabel Parsons||Ava DeMary
Alternates: Madilyn Jaz Morrow, Heather Tepe
|Hortensia||Jessica Adair, Daisy Brophy & Shyanne Sanders||Oonagh Cox, Fleur Houdijk & Katie Lee||Emma Howard
Alternate: Madilyn Jaz Morrow
|Tommy||Charlie Callaghan, Callum Henderson & Denzil Sampson||Thomas Atkinson, Jamie Kaye, & Callum Henderson||Judah Bellamy
Alternates: Sawyer Nunes & Heather Tepe
|Reginald||Elliot Allinson, Thomas McGarrity & Robert Madge||does not appear|
- ^ Role originally 'The Escapologist' in Broadway run but was later changed to 'The Escape Artist'.
- Notable West End replacements
- Matilda – Isobelle Molloy, Jade Marner, Hayley Canham, Lucy-Mae Beacock, Chloe Hawthorn, Lara Wollington Elise Blake, Cristina Fray, Georgia Pemberton, Lollie McKenzie Lottie Sicilia, Cara Jenkins, Tasha Chapple
- Miss Trunchbull – David Leonard, Alex Gaumond
- Miss Honey – Haley Flaherty
- Mrs Phelps – Lisa Davina Phillip
- Mr Wormwood – Steve Furst, James Clyde
- Mrs Wormwood – Annette McLaughlin, Kay Murphy
- Michael Wormwood – Nick Searle, Joshua Wyatt
- Rudolpho – Marc Antolin, Joshua Lay
- Notable Broadway replacements
- Matilda - Paige Brady, Gabriella Pizzolo, Ripley Sobo, Ava Ulloa 
- Miss Trunchbull – Craig Bierko, Chris Hoch, Ben Thompson, Christopher Sieber
- Miss Honey – Jill Paice
- Mrs Phelps – Natalie Venetia Belcon
- Mr Wormwood - Matt Harrington
In June 2013, Tim Minchin said a future film adaption was being planned. Minchin said during an interview, "We just got [the show] up in New York, there's a touring version that is meant to be going on in America, concurrently the English version is up, there's a film that will probably be made in the next 4 or 5 years and all this sort of stuff." Mara Wilson, who played Matilda in the original 1996 film adaptation of Dahl's novel, has expressed an interest in having a cameo in a film version if asked. On 15 November 2013, in an article in the Daily Mail it was revealed that Dennis Kelly, who won the Tony for Best Book for Matilda, will write the movie's script, with Minchin penning any additional music required and Warchus, returning to direct. The movie will be released in 2019 at the earliest, due to a Broadway contract stipulating that any film version cannot be released before six years have expired following the show's opening there.
2010 RSC Stratford production
Michael Billington, writing for The Guardian, gave the musical four stars out of five. He praised the adaptation of the book, the "ebullient music and lyrics", the direction, the stage design and the performances—especially Bertie Carvel as Miss Trunchbull. The Independent also gave the show four out of five stars and said, "The Royal Shakespeare Company has struck gold with this wildly entertaining musical … Kelly's clever adaptation and the witty, intricate songs by ... Minchin create a new, improved version of Dahl's story ... Warchus's wondrously well-drilled production finds just the right balance between gleeful grotesque humour and heart-warming poignancy."
Charles Spencer, writing for The Daily Telegraph awarded the show all five stars and praised the "splendidly witty, instantly hummable songs, dazzling choreography, a cast of impossibly cute and delightful children and a fantastic star turn from Bertie Carvel ... [Kelly's] script has both deepened the emotion of Dahl's story while adding loads of splendid jokes of his own", and concluded, "It is funny, heart-warming, and bang-on target". Matt Wolf of The Arts Desk said: "I was struck by the sight of many a child grinning as openly as their adult companions were wiping away tears". Henry Hitchings of the London Evening Standard also praised the performances, direction and design and commented on Minchin's "witty songs [in which] he switches between styles with remarkable dexterity". He continued, "There's a playfulness throughout [the book] that proves intoxicating ... In this lovingly created show, Matilda's magic positively sparkles. There's a cleverness in the writing which ensures that, while it appeals to children, there is plenty for adults to savour ... it's blissfully funny."
The reviews of the London performances were also very positive. Julie carpenter of the Daily Express awarded the show all five stars and called the musical "[g]loriously over the top", and said, "it's an irresistible and ingenious mix of fun, fizz, cruelty, incredible choreography and above all warmth which means we root for the kids from the start. Fantastic." Henry Hitchings' review in the Evening Standard ranked the piece five stars, praising the music and lyrics, book, set design, choreography, direction and performances. The review in The Guardian said, "You'd be a nitwit to miss this hit show." The only complaint in Quentin Letts' five-star review in the Daily Mail was about "overdone amplification". The Stage also gave Matilda five stars, as did Spencer, writing again for The Telegraph. Confirming his impression of the 2010 production, he wrote about the West End transfer:
I suspect it will delight audiences for years to come ... [Kelly's] script actually improves and deepens Dahl's original ... [Minchin's] smashing score ... combines take-home melodies with delicious lyrical wit in songs that consistently develop both the plot and our understanding of the characters. There is an exuberant sense here of two writers who have clicked together ... [Matilda] so wittily excoriates the cruelty and crassness of our age ... Warchus’s thrilling, warm-hearted production, exuberantly designed by Rob Howell and with pin-sharp choreography by Peter Darling, constantly combines comedy with a sense of wonder. The children [and the adult performances are 'hilarious' (Bailey), 'memorable' (Walker and Kaye) and 'touchingly sweet' (Ward)] ... But the star turn is Bertie Carvel".
The Financial Times, The Times and The Sunday Times each awarded the show four stars out of five, but found little to criticise. Ben Brantley, writing for The New York Times, called the adaptation "a sweet and sharp-witted work of translation, which ... turns dark and sodden anxieties into bright and buoyant fantasies [that address] a raging thirst these days for [such] tonics". A year after the show opened, Time Out gave the production four stars out of five, noting the departure of Carvel and calling the show "a little too long and, dramatically, a tad wayward", but nevertheless "wise, wicked, glorious fun."
Most of the New York critics gave the Broadway transfer their highest marks. Brantley wrote: "Matilda works with astonishing slyness and grace to inculcate us with its radical point of view. [It] is about words and language, books and stories, and their incalculable worth as weapons of defense, attack and survival ... Above all it’s an exhilarating tale of empowerment". He also said the child actors "strengthen their diction" so that the "tasty lyrics" could be clearly heard. Richard Zoglin, in Time magazine said that the show is "a fresh start for the Broadway musical" with "a score that seems all but woven into the scenery—simple but distinctive tunes ... intricate lyrics ... Every element of the show seems hand-crafted and right". He said that director Warchus "lets the characters go gloriously over the top (the way children see them), but also brings a hushed intensity". He also said that the second act "runs a bit too long" and that "the combination of shrill child voices, British accents and heavy miking causes many of the lyrics to get muddled". Elisabeth Vincentelli's review in the New York Post said, "Once in a blue moon, a show comes out blazing and restores your faith in Broadway. Matilda The Musical is that show." David Rooney of the Hollywood Reporter said the stage show captured "the unique flavor of Roald Dahl’s classic 1988 children’s novel", and added,"this funhouse fairy tale is by turns riotous and poignant, grotesque and menacing, its campy comic exaggeration equaled only by its transporting emotional power".
David Cote, in Time Out New York wondered whether the show was too English for Broadway tastes; he wrote, "Matilda is a kids' musical, not a musical that happens to be about a kid. As such, its attractions may be limited to younger spectators and die-hard Dahl fans. That would be a pity, since Matilda is wickedly smart and wildly fun". A review in USA Today said the show tries too hard to be clever, but it is affecting and enchanting. Of the British papers reviewing the transfer, The Telegraph gave the show four stars out of five, and said, "There's a harder-edged quality to the New York staging: the general tenor is louder and more exaggerated, and the Gilbertian finesse of [the] astonishing lyrics didn't translate for my companion ... But the tremendous heart and intelligence of the piece remains undimmed." A review by Brendan Lemon in the Financial Times also gave the piece four stars out of five.
Awards and nominations
- Jones, Kenneth. "Clybourne Park, Matilda and Suchet Honored in London's Critics' Circle Theatre Awards" playbill.com, 25 January 2011.
- "Peter Hall and Derek Jacobi among winners at Theatre Awards UK". The Stage. 30 October 2011. Retrieved 19 January 2012.
- "Matilda musical breaks Olivier awards record". BBC. 15 April 2012. Retrieved 15 April 2012.
- "'Matilda' Wins Top Musical With Critics' Circle Distinction". huffingtonpost.com. The Huffington Post. 3 May 2013. Retrieved 3 May 2013.
- "Play about maths genius equals Matilda's record". guardian.co.uk. The Guardian. 29 April 2013. Retrieved 3 May 2013.
- "Royal Shakespeare Company stages world premiere of Roald Dahl's Matilda in winter 2010". RSC website. Royal Shakespeare Company. 2009-09-30. Retrieved 2010-04-07.
- Shenton, Mark. "RSC Presents Premiere of New Musical Matilda, Opening Dec. 9; Matthew Warchus Directs". Playbill. 9 December 2010.
-  and 
- Serena Alllot. Waltzing Matilda: Dahl's classic dances on to the stage The Daily Telegraph, 26 November 2010
- Billington, Michael. "Review-'Matilda'"The Guardian, 10 December 2010
- "West End Musical Matilda Will Now Begin Performances October 25". Theatre Mania. 29 September 2011. Retrieved 19 January 2012.
- "Matilda - review Cambridge Theatre, London". The Guardian. 25 November 2011. Retrieved 19 January 2012.
- "Matilda at the Cambridge Theatre is hilarious, moving and magical". The Telegraph. 25 November 2011. Retrieved 19 January 2012.
- "peter hall and derek jacobi among winners". The Stage. Retrieved 19 January 2012.
- "Frankensteins Share Best Actor in Standard Awards, Smith Wins with Flare Date: 20 November 2011". Whats on Stage. 20 November 2011. Retrieved 19 January 2012.
- "RSC announces four new girls for West End Matilda". WhatsOnStage. 9 August 2012. Retrieved 9 August 2012.
- "Matilda Meets Her Maj At 100th Royal Variety Bash". theatrepeople.com. Theatre People. 27 November 2012. Retrieved 6 September 2013.
- "Watch the West End Cast of Matilda Perform a 'Naughty' Medley at Royal Variety Performance". broadway.com. Broadway.Com. 4 December 2012. Retrieved 6 September 2013.
- "MATILDA To Open Broadcast of BBC Children In Need! With Georgia Pemberton as Matilda.". broadwayworld.com. Broadway World. 13 November 2013. Retrieved 15 November 2013.
- "RSC's Matilda cast kick-off Children in Need". leamingtonobserver.co.uk. Leamington Observer. 15 November 2013. Retrieved 15 November 2013.
- "Matilda the Musical to transfer to Broadway". BBC. 29 February 2012. Retrieved 15 March 2012.
- "The battle to keep award-winning musical Matilda British". Daily Mail. 19 April 2012. Retrieved 20 April 2012.
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