Matilda The Musical

Miracles abound in Canadian premiere of Roald Dahl's Matilda The Musical

Presented by David Mirvish
Production by the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Dodgers 
Based on the book by Roald Dahl
Book by Dennis Kelly
Music and lyrics by Tim Minchin
Directed by Matthew Warchus 

Hannah Levinson (Matilda) in MATILDA THE MUSICAL ©2016, Joan Marcus.

A little genius goes a long way in Matilda The Musical, the Olivier and Tony Award-winning show based on Roald Dahl's 1988 children's novel, now on stage at Ed Mirvish Theatre featuring an all-Canadian cast. Matilda is kids' theatre with a grown-up edge. In keeping with Dahl's approach, composer Tim Minchin never underestimates the intelligence of his young audience, balancing serious themes with lighter comedic moments in a satirical musical that holds an unflattering mirror up to the world we live in.

The story centres around Matilda Wormwood (played by the hugely talented Hannah Levinson on opening night), a remarkable little girl who is neglected and bullied at home by her greedy, ignorant and uncaring parents. Matilda's sad situation is starkly contrasted with her peers in the opening number, "Miracle," a parody of moden parenting and the idea that every child is exceptional: "My mummy says I'm a miracle, My daddy says I'm his special little guy," the ensemble sings.

Meanwhile, Matilda's narcissistic mother Mrs. Wormwood (Darcy Stewart) has no time for her daughter. She cares only about her appearance, her dance instructor Rudolpho (Anthony MacPherson), and of course, she loves money. Matilda's father, Mr. Wormwood (Brandon McGibbon), is a sleazy car salesman who can't understand why his kidwho he refers to as "boy" even though she is a girlchooses to read instead of watching telly. 

Despite these circumstances, Matilda refuses to be a victim. She isn't afraid to retaliate, as she demonstrates in "Naughty" when she gets back at her nasty father by bleaching his hair and gluing his hat to his head. Matilda also finds comfort in the library where she shares stories with the librarian Mrs. Phelps (Keisha T. Fraser).

Later, when Matilda starts at school, she finds herself preparing for another fight against the horrid headmistress Miss Trunchbull (Dan Chameroy). The former hammer throwing champion enjoys nothing more than punishing children and is famous for sending them to a place she calls the "Chokey", a dark, narrow cupboard with spikes in the walls and nails sticking up from the floor. In the creative wordplay-filled "School Song," the older kids warn Matilda and her friends, including Bruce (Aiden Bushey) and Lavendar (Riley O'Donnell), that Crunchem Hall Elementary is not a fun place to be.

With the help of her supportive teacher, Miss Honey (Paula Brancati), Matilda eventually stands up to the Trunchbull and discovers she has telekinetic powers. Her final act of rebellion frees everyone ("Revolting Children"), including Miss Honey and herself.

Audiences of all ages will find inspiration in Matilda The Musical, which boasts highly artistic sets, athletic choreography and stand-out performances by the younger members of the ensemble in particular. Levinson brings impressive gravitas to the role of Matilda, demonstrating the commitment of a performer well beyond her years. She is a joy to watch throughout, as is Brancati as the long suffering and kind hearted Miss Honey.

Chameroy's Miss Trunchbull is both hilarious and horrifyingthe panto veteran is perfectly cast in this part. Generally, the show's treatment of its villains (the headmisstress and the Wormwoods) borders on over-the-top silly, but these goofy performances add some much needed levity to the darker scenes.

Aside from a few issues with diction and inconsistent British accents, the Canadian production is a winner and is sure to be a crowd pleaser. The message that children have a right to be who they are, to stand up for themselves and to help others couldn't be more important for the next generation of theatregoers to hear.

Matilda The Musical runs until January 7, 2017 at the Ed Mirvish Theatre. Visit for more information and to buy tickets. 

Show Dates: 
Sat, 2016-07-09 - Sat, 2017-01-07
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