Seeing the world through the lens of a child, Matilda the Musical captures the excitement of youth and wide-eyed innocence.
The musical follows the tale of young Matilda Wormwood, the titular heroine of Roald Dahl’s novel of which it is based on, and her journey to finding acceptance and a place where she belongs.
A plucky and intelligent schoolgirl who loves reading, Matilda possesses the qualities that most parents would adore. Unfortunately for her, the Wormwood family dotes more on her older brother and wishes she could be just like the “telly-loving” boy.
And so this is exactly where Matilda (played by Singaporean Sofia Poston*) finds herself at the beginning: unloved, unappreciated and an unpolished gem.
To things worse, she soon finds herself a target of Miss Trunchbull, former Olympic hammer-thrower and current tyrannical headmistress at Crunchem Hall Primary School where she attends. Thankfully, her class teacher Miss Honey and fellow schoolmates rally around her against Miss Trunchbull.
Matilda showcases a delightful selection of songs like Miracle (“Mum says I’m an angel sent down from the sky”), When I Grow Up (“I will be tall enough to reach the branches that I need to”) and the anthemic Quiet and Revolting Children (“We are revolting children / Living in revolting times / We sing revolting songs / Using revolting rhymes”).
The child actors, eight in the cast of 27 people, take centre-stage as they stomp and twirl through the frenetic routines to gasps and laughter.
The adults hold their weight against their younger counterparts with perfectly-timed slapstick humour. Look out for a hilarious number (The Smell of Rebellion) featuring Trunchbull (played by Ryan de Villers), which will leave you in stitches.
The musical experience is also elevated by the evolving set including captivating props such as swings, playground slides, and even a giant school gate.
There are a couple of twists in the bag for those who have yet to read Dahl’s novel. But there is no surprise in the broad story arc of Matilda: it is an uplifting ode to her spunky individuality in the face of adversity.
*The role of Matilda is played by Lilla Fleischmann, Morgan Santo, Kitty Harris, and Poston during the musical’s run in Singapore. For the gala premiere, which this reporter attended, Matilda was played by Poston.
Matilda the Musical runs from now to 17 March at the Marina Bay Sands’ Sands Theatre. Tickets are priced from $68 onwards.
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