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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, August 28, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 35
Matilda is magnificent
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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Matilda is magnificent

by Eric Andrews-Katz - SGN A&E Writer

MATILDA THE MUSICAL
THE 5TH AVENUE THEATRE
Through September 6


Matilda the musical is an enjoyable, fun, traditional Broadway musical that is sure to delight everyone. Although looking like a 'kiddie' musical by the untrained eye, the musical is geared towards people of any age. Based on the Roald Dahl novel, so those familiar with it will know of its dark story-line nature to begin with, the story Matilda has taken on several different forms: a book, a movie, and now a stage musical. The 5th Avenue Theatre brings the first National Touring Company of this blockbuster musical to Seattle.

The story is typical Dahl. There is a child that is somehow being abused by the adults that are around them. In this case, Matilda is a highly intelligent and precocious child born to Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood. They are parents who already have a son and have no interest in raising another child. Mr. Wormwood consistently refers to his daughter as a boy and Mrs. Wormwood pathetically ignores her daughter, preferring to concentrate on entering and winning a ballroom dancing contest instead. The fact that by age seven Matilda is reading, comprehending, and practically ingesting books on an advanced adult level has gone by completely unnoticed by her parents. They prefer to watch and learn what they can from the 'telly' instead. Matilda is sent to a private school run by the strict disciplinarian headmistress, Ms. Trunchbull. It is there that Matilda meets Ms. Honey, a gentle teacher and the only adult to recognize Matilda for the beautiful, gifted child she really is. After watching the unfair abuse by the headmistress, Matilda develops telekinetic powers and starts to fight back.

There are several supporting roles in this musical along with three strong leading parts. The roles of Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood (played by Quinn Mattfeld and Cassie Silva respectively) are done with great humor and campiness. Mattfeld is wonderful as the scheming father and does an excellent job interacting with the audience in the song 'Telly,' confirming Mr. Wormwood's motto that 'everything you need to learn you can learn from telly.' Silva, as the mother obsessed with winning the dance contest, is over-the-top funny, believing in the philosophy that you can get anything done as long as you do it 'Loud.' There are many children in the cast of Matilda, but that shouldn't scare anyone away from seeing it. All the kids are very good in their roles, none of them vying for attention or trying to steal focus. Obviously, the stage mothers were kept on leashes because the kids all did wonderful jobs on stage.

The three leading roles are that of Miss Honey (Jennifer Blood), Miss Trunchbull (Bryce Ryness), and, of course, Matilda. The role of Matilda, the little girl with great abilities, is alternately performed by three different girls, Gabby Gutierrez (Opening Night), Mia Sinclair Jenness, and Mabel Tyler. Young Ms. Gutierrez has the distinctive pleasure of being the first Filipina to play the role. Her voice handled the songs well and she brought a cute persona to the role of the precocious Matilda. The audience is instantly endeared to Matilda, and cheer for her despite her mischievous streak and slight rebellions. Jennifer Blood brings innocence along with a mousy demeanor to the character of Miss Honey, which is exactly what is needed. Ms. Blood shows the audience the inner conflict of withering in fear of Miss Trunchbull but wanting to help Matilda. Her voice is soft but strong, easily flowing through the theater.

Without a doubt, Trunchbull is a devious, evil character, and Bryce Ryness does an excellent job playing her. From the moment Trunchbull enters on stage, she is believably unlikeable without being a scary (or intimidating) threat to the younger members of the audience. The voice is done with a nasal pinch that works very well giving off enough creepiness and chill to keep the audience ill at ease. Her distaste for children is clear and hysterical with the constant refrain of calling them 'maggots' among other names. The abuse doled out is done in a non-threatening way, even when Trunchbull swings children around by their ears or pigtails.

The storyline is typical Roald Dahl. He is definitely an advocate for children's rights and it comes across in the morality tales that he writes. Like his other works, Charlie & the Chocolate Factory and The Witches (among others), Matilda exposes the mischief that can be released when parents fail in their responsibilities. The dark story presented implies its evil behavior without being scary to younger children; it teaches them the lesson in a fun, enjoyable way, hopefully giving the parents something to think about as well.

Matilda is fun. The English accents may take a little getting used to before the ear deciphers it, but the show is enjoyable for young and old alike. The special effects are done very well, easily pleasing the audience. The songs are well written with several hummable tunes, although other songs may be a little serious for younger listeners. Either way, they promote the storyline, as any song in a musical should do.

No matter how you view it, this musical is fun, enjoyable and anyone would be hard pressed not to have a good time.



Matilda the musical is based on the novel by Roald Dahl, and opened in London's West End in November 2010. It currently holds the record for most Olivier Awards (equivalent to the American Tony Awards) won by a musical. The show transferred to Broadway on March 4, 2013 where it is currently running still. Bertie Carvel reprised his Olivier Award winning role as Miss Trunchbull for the Broadway opening. It was nominated for 13 Tony Awards (2013 Season) winning five, including Best Book of a Musical. It was announced recently that plans for a live-action, film version of the musical is being planned for production.

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