I guess the secret is out: I am a huge Roald Dahl fan! So because of this fact, I absolutely had to see yet another one of Dahl’s classics set to musical, “Matilda.” I have to say, I really worked hard to get to see this one readers! I waited 2 days for a total of about 2 hours to get special “18-25 yr olds” tickets (they only release 16 per show, per day and it’s first come, first serve). Buuut… It was totally worth it! The show was so much fun!
When I initially walked in to the Cambridge Theatre, I thought (to put it bluntly) it looked a bit shabby. And compared to the many other theatres I have been inside of, it was. But all my trepidations disappeared as I sat down in my seat and looked onstage. The set was, in a word, “spectacular.” It looked like a 3-D scrabble board with multicolored letters hanging from the ceiling spelling out “MATILDA.” The set literally “set the stage” for what was to come (see what I did there) because as soon as the actors and actresses leapt (and they did LEAP) onto stage, I was bombarded by an unheard of amount of color, lights, glitter, and many other shiny things!
Now, I don’t usually pay much attention to choreography in a show. Probably because I’m not a dancer. But, I have to say, whoever the choreographer is for this show, he or she must have a never-ending supply of energy. The entire cast did not stop moving for 95% of the show! And not like caaasual movement, more like a “flipping” kind of movement (they even had a trampoline on-stage at one point!). At some points, the choreography was a little distracting. Especially when the chorus was trying to sing in unison. The words got really jumbled and if there’s one thing I absolutely hate, it’s when I can’t hear the words to a song. But, even I have to admit, that at some points, the choreography, while it may have overpowered the lyrics to a couple numbers, it certainly created spectacular moments. For example, at one point in the beginning, a large kind of wall popped up in the center of the stage. This wall was kind of like a jungle-gym (anyone having a flashback to elementary school yet?) with squares of all different sizes creating this distorted-looking ladder. Well, as if singing around the jungle-gym wasn’t good enough, the actors actually started scaling the wall, while other actors started putting in square boxes with letters painted on them into the spaces for the squares. And if that wasn’t enough, all of this was timed and choreographed perfectly to go with spelling the alphabet and two of the acrobatically-inclined actors were climbing and reacting to the boxes while simultaneously belting their hearts out. It makes me exhausted just trying to explain it! But it was oh so impressive!
This show certainly had a lot to live up to. For me, it had to live up to one scene in particular from “Matilda” the feature film. And that, of course, was the chocolate cake scene. For those out there that have no idea what I’m talking about, go right now to your Netflix accounts, in the children section and watch “Matilda.” This scene will change your life, and if you are inclined to overindulge on chocolate, it might even cure your cravings. That being said, this scene was done really, really well, and the chubby kid at the center of the scene was absolutely hilarious.
Another, very important piece of the “Matilda” story that this show delivered on was Agatha Trunchbull herself. One of the most notorious children’s book villains (synonymous with Ms. Hannigan from “Annie” and the Child Catcher from “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”), the “Trunch” was an absolute delight to watch. A very talented and self-confident man played Agatha and did a great job prancing around stage (with surprisingly toned legs I might add) putting fear into the hearts of the children both in and watching the show (I’ll admit at one point she/he gave me goose-bumps). And who is Agatha Trunchbull without her most famous weapon: “the Chokey” (dun dun… DUN!!). Well, the entire audience got to experience the terrible chokey, as… no. I don’t think I’ll tell you that. You’ll just have to go and experience it yourself.
This was a great last show to see in London. Colors and lights galore, with amazingly talented kids and adults dancing and singing (although about what, I still am not completely sure), and best of all, an added touch of magic. To be honest, that’s really all I’m looking for in a show. Just a little magic.
And really, is that too much to ask?