Matilda, the outrageously fun musical based on the Roald Dahl book of the same name has arrived at the Orpheum. Like many who grew up in the 90s I was a fan of the story, and more familiar with the 1996 movie than the book, but regardless of how you have come to this tale the musical will not disappoint. It stays true to the story of a brilliant girl, unappreciated by her parents, who stands up for herself and her classmates against the evil principal Miss Trunchbull, and finds a loving ally in her teacher Miss Honey.
This was my first time seeing the show, although I was very familiar with the soundtrack, and had seen all promotional material available on youtube. But regardless of how many youtube clips you have watched, or songs you have listened to nothing can ever come close to the experience of actually seeing a show live. Characters that had seemed boring (Miss Honey) all of a sudden have more depth and sentiments that seemed powerful on a recording, when seen live pack and even bigger punch.
The sentiments come across very well through Tim Minchin's music. I particularly love the song Naughty and the line, "nobody but me is going to change my story." That one sentence gets to the heart of what Matilda is about and I am convinced that adults need to hear that just as much as kids. The audience was filled with children hearing those words and experiencing live theater. As someone whose love of live theater started in elementary school it is always a joy to see kids falling in love with theater, and is more than worth the occasional kick to the back of your seat.
Matilda has a lot to love, great fun music by Tim Minchin, high energy choreography by Peter Darling, and a set by Rob Howell filled with fun and whimsy. One of my only criticisms would be that the set had a little too much going on, at times I was distracted from the show by the set that it was taking place on. The set, in addition to direction by Matthew Warchus favored a center on view that seemed to forget about those sitting on the sides of the house at times.
But the energy that was being emanated from the stage easily filled the Orpheum's 2600 seat house. Much of this came from the very talented young cast. I saw Gabby Gutirrez in the role of Matilda, she did a wonderful job taking on the character of the lovable and magical book worm with a very strong moral compass. It was also fun to see Minnesota native Soren Thayne Miller (Ragtime, Diary of a Wimpy Kid) in the role of Bruce.
I went into seeing Matilda with high expectations and was not disappointed. Matilda is a high energy and hopeful show that is sure to be enjoyed by the whole family. It is playing at the Orpheum Theater in downtown Minneapolis until April 1st.
*Photo: Jennifer Bowles (Miss Honey) and Gabby Gutierrez (Matilda) in MATILDA THE MUSICAL, photo by Tim Trumble