Theatre Review: MATILDA THE MUSICAL – Palace Theatre, Manchester

The cast of MATILDA THE MUSICAL UK Tour. Photo Credit: Manuel Harlan

The cast of MATILDA THE MUSICAL UK Tour. Photo Credit: Manuel Harlan

With its witty gags, jaw-dropping magic tricks, fabulous songs and dazzling sets, MATILDA THE MUSICAL is pure theatrical gold

When West End fixture MATILDA THE MUSICAL announced it was embarking on its first UK national tour, my popularity went through the roof. I was suddenly bombarded with a flurry of text messages and endless requests to be my ‘plus one’ to press night. It appeared everyone wanted to see this production and it’s easy to see why.

Inspired by the beloved book by Roald Dahl, MATILDA THE MUSICAL tells the story of Matilda, an extraordinary little girl with a vivid imagination and a sharp mind who is neglected by her parents. When Matilda encounters the wicked headmistress Miss Trunchbull, who takes sheer delight out of bullying little children, her anger leads her to unlocking magic powers which eventually help her and her classmates to revolt against the evil headmistress and get their school back.

The cast of MATILDA THE MUSICAL UK Tour. Photo Credit: Manuel Harlan

The cast of MATILDA THE MUSICAL UK Tour. Photo Credit: Manuel Harlan

Uplifting, funny and incredibly inventive, MATILDA THE MUSICAL is a true gift of a show that remains every bit as powerful, poignant and enjoyable as when it first premiered at Stratford-upon-Avon in 2010. Tim Minchin and Dennis Kelly’s reimagining takes the essence of Dahl’s story and sprinkles it with some real theatrical magic. As Rob Howell’s spectacular block coloured set comes to life on stage, jaw-dropping illusions and tricks are used to pull off memorable scenes such as Bruce Bogtrotter and the chocolate cake and Miss Trunchbull swinging a young girl by her ponytails before launching her into the air.

The characters are equally as colourful with Sophia Ally stealing the show as Matilda, astonishing in both her vulnerability and strength, as well as her beautiful and powerful vocals. Carly Thoms is quietly heartbreaking as Miss Honey, the teacher who attempts to cultivate Matilda’s mind, with her beautiful renditions of THIS LITTLE GIRL and MY HOUSE standing out as highlights. Michelle Chantelle Hopewell is equally strong as the warm and encouraging librarian Mrs Phelps.

Reprising his role as Miss Trunchbull, Craige Els brings hilarity and menace to the evil headmistress, his humour making the character seem a little less frightening than the hit film but all the more entertaining. As Matilda’s parents, Rebecca Thornhill and Sebastien Torkia play comic caricatures but are hilariously blissful in their awfulness.

The cast of MATILDA THE MUSICAL UK Tour. Photo Credit: Manuel Harlan

The cast of MATILDA THE MUSICAL UK Tour. Photo Credit: Manuel Harlan

But it is Tim Minchin’s punchy and addictive score which truly stands out, wonderfully capturing Dahl’s child-like zest for life with music and lyrics that blend seamlessly with the beloved characters. From Matilda’s call-to-arms in NAUGHTY to the tender WHEN I GROW UP, every song is quietly brilliant, taking you on a wild and wonderful journey that you won’t forget in a hurry.

With its witty gags, jaw-dropping magic tricks, fabulous songs, brilliant choreography, dazzling sets – not to mention the impossibly cute bunch of kids who deliver great performances – MATILDA THE MUSICAL is pure theatrical gold. No wonder it’s won so many awards!

(5 / 5)

MATILDA THE MUSICAL runs at the Palace Theatre, Manchester until 24 November 2018.

Donna is the Editor of Frankly, My Dear UK. By day, she is a digital marketing whizz, by night she reviews film, theatre and music for a wide range of publications including WhatsonStage, The Public Reviews and ScreenRelish. Loves Shakespeare, prosecco and Formula 1