Matilda The Musical bursts into life from the opening song, setting up an extravaganza of outrageous antics and schoolyard fun that has the cast swinging, dancing and tumbling across the stage.
Based on British author Roald Dahl’s 1988 children’s story Matilda about an extremely bright but neglected girl called Matilda Wormwood, it’s hard to imagine a more delightful adaptation. Tim Minchin’s quirky style is stamped all over the score and lyrics, supported beautifully by the hyperactive choreography and clever transformer-like sets.
The School Song sets a high bar early in the first act – a brilliant play-on-words performed by the older students in an impressive feat of timing and climbing (with alphabet blocks) on the huge vertical frame of the school gates.
Every scene is a dazzling theatrical showcase for the Australian cast who surely sleep well each night after working their drama, dance and singing skills to the limit.
During the inspiring When I Grow Up, the students jump onto enormous swings taking them across the stage and out into the audience; at other times they’re speeding around on scooters or throwing paper planes into the crowd.
Miss Trunchball (James Millar) with her monobrow and moley face is superbly evil, although her short-skirted uniform may leave some audience members with deep psychological scars.
There are four Matildas sharing the lead role, and it was 10 year old Bella Thomas’ turn in the spotlight, with just the right mix of pertinence and innocence delivered in a polished British accent – plus an impressive monologue in perfect Russian.
The audience was full of children but apart from the expected responses of laughter and cheers, there was barely a peep from them, all ages seemingly mesmerised.
Matilda The Musical is unforgettable musical theatre – it will make you laugh and cry and stomp your feet for more.
Sydney Lyric Theatre
Review by Jane O’Connell, 31st January 2016