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Review: Matilda the Musical

Does the stage production, now on at the Bristol Hippodrome, make its mark after such an adored book and iconic film?

It’s a big, fat yes from us. In the hands of director Nik Ashton, set designer Ben Davies and choreographer Fabian Aloise, Matilda is a story that was destined for the stage: a visual spectacle that uses both objects and people in a wonderfully playful and inventive way.
birthday party tea
There are massive swings, moving bookcases, and wild dance moves (just you wait for Bruce Bogtrotter’s take on Beyoncé’s ‘Single Ladies’ routine…). The audience was delighted with the stage version of Miss Trunchball’s swinging of a student’s pigtails, and the farce of Mr Wormwood trying to take off his superglued hat. These are real gems of scenes.
children on swings on stage

And the music! Tim Minchin gives us songs that are at once cheeky and heartbreaking, that flow into the storyline so easily that it’s hard to imagine Matildawithout them.

“It’s not right”, Matilda pronounces when her father tries to sell used cars as brand new to unsuspecting clients; when Miss Trunchball tricks students into punishment; when Miss Honey talks about being swindled out of her family house. Running through this glorious version of Matilda is a real moral streak, with a fierce little girl at its centre determined to make this world a better place. Special shout out goes to Olivia Juno Cleverley playing Matilda, who brings to her performance such vim and vigour. Hardly off the stage, she sparkles as the wonderfully unique Matilda.

stage version matilda

This musical has a strong, positive message for the children in the audience – that, as Matilda sings, “even if you’re little you can do a lot” – who are all visibly beaming at the curtain call. And the adults too, to be sure – we all need a little bit of magic in our lives, after all.

Matilda the Musical is on at the Bristol Hippodrome until Sat 7 June.

Bristol Hippodrome, St Augustine’s Parade, Bristol BS1 4UZ.


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