“To change the world it takes a little genius” and in the Dallas touring production of Broadway blockbuster MATILDA THE MUSICAL that genius is a 5 year old girl who is not afraid to break the rules when needed and be a bit naughty in order to make things right.
I never read Roald Dahl’s book and my memories of the movie MATILDA from the late 90’s were more annoying than anything else. Thankfully, MATILDA THE MUSICAL soon had me charmed and laughing at its black humor.
The opening number is full of Mummy and Daddy’s little miracles and all over wonderkids – children who can absolutely do no wrong. Unfortunately, Matilda’s parents see her as a bothersome little worm with her mother regularly berating her for reading books and her father not even troubling to call her by name – most of the time simply “boy.” After engaging in some naughty and well deserved payback, Matilda (played by the talented Mia Sinclair Jenness – one of three rotating actresses) escapes to the library where she tells elaborate stories of an imaginary world to the enthralled librarian, Mrs. Phelps – colorfully played by Ora Jones – probably one of the lone bright spots in Matilda’s life up to this point along with her books.
While the beginning of school is expected to be a wonderful refuge from her parents, Matilda soon finds out that Crunchem Hall Elementary is no better. The older students climbing on alphabet blocks in the “School Song” highlighting all the terrible things the new children need to be aware of was one of my favorite performances in the show.
As duly warned, school turns out to be a terrifying place thanks to the child-hating, hammer throwing headmistress, Miss Agatha Trunchbull played in campy drag by Bryce Ryness. Mr. Ryness quickly steals almost every scene he is in, and despite being the villainess of the story I could hardly wait for the next time he would make an appearance.
Matilda’s teacher, Miss Honey is all kinds of sweet, as her name implies, and of course recognizes Matilda as the gifted child she is and the reason to courageously stand up to the dreaded Miss Trunchbull to make all of their lives better.
The numbers with Matilda’s parents seemed superfluous and even though Quinn Mattfeld was funny as Mr. Wormwood, his big number, “Telly,” seemed more like an extra song inserted during intermission than really an integral part of the play – don’t get me started on the salsa dancing and Russian Mafia!
The two show-stopping numbers capture the best part of being a child and facing the world in which you find yourself. In “When I Grow Up,” the children dream of what is to come and solutions to their problems while soaring above the stage on swings and riding on brightly colored scooters. And as far as living in the moment you can’t help but want to sing and clap along as the young actors embrace that they indeed are “Revolting Children” living in revolting times winning against all challengers.
At its core, MATILDA is a heartwarming tale of a spunky little girl vanquishing her foes and believing that she can make her corner of the world a better place – inspiring to any little girl who attends and still entertaining for any adult.
Information on tickets and the show, visit dallas-theater.com.