It’s a classic story that’s enchanted the hearts of adults and children for 30 years, and now it’s embarked on its first-ever UK tour.
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There’s absolutely no questioning the power that lies behind musical theatre and its ability to bring people from across the world together. Birmingham should consider itself incredibly lucky, for each season the Hippodrome continues to up its game in bringing world-class, award-winning shows to its stage every year.
And Matilda is no different, it’s a story that’s no stranger to great success. First released as a book penned by the late, great Roald Dahl in 1998, the novel was adapted into a film starring Mara Wilson in 1998, before being picked up by the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), where it opened in 2010 and transferring to the West End just a year later. And the rest, as they say, is history.
This is the first time that the RSC has taken Matilda on tour and it’s very rare that the world-famous company lets members of the public behind stage doors. But I was very lucky to be given an opportunity to go behind-the-scenes and experience just about everything that makes this show tick.
From props to changing rooms and stage design, Matilda is the biggest show that the RSC has ever taken out on the road, and it’s very clear to see the amount of work that goes into creating the set.
It takes three days to move the show, with everything from the floor being built to tiles being pieced together, specifically to fit the needs of creating the most immersive performance for the audience.
The attention to detail across the entire set is something to behold. More than 2,000 scrabble tiles are used to create the surrounding on the stage, and if you look closely, you’ll be able to pick out words used throughout the show.
There’s so much to love about Matilda. Whilst the storyline strays from Roald Dahl’s original tale, it still celebrates and brings to life the pages that parents and children alike will fall in love with.
Matilda is a little girl whose intelligence is more developed than it should be for a child who is about to take her first steps into education. She can tell the most wonderful stories and can figure out the answers for long multiplications quicker than you can say “chocolate fudge cake”.
But life isn’t easy for Matilda. She spends her days being belittled and called “odd” by her parents because she’d rather sit and read a book than have her eyes glued to a television, much like her older brother, and things only seem to take a turn for the worst when she meets her terrifying headmistress, Miss Trunchbull (Craige Els.)
The cast and company are sensational in every shape and form. While Matilda may not be the most demanding show in terms of choreography and physicality, the energy required in delivering Minchin’s lyrics clearly is a challenge in itself for any actor, and the young cast is seriously impressive in taking on their roles that go way beyond just Matilda and Bruce.
In short, Matilda has everything it needs to make it an unbeatable musical. Swift and clean automated set changes teamed with devilishly clever music lyrics from Tim Minchin, it’s nearly impossible to fall in love with everything this production has to offer.
Magical, unforgettable and heart-warmingly brilliant, make Matilda the Musical the show you see in Birmingham this summer because trust me, you don’t want to miss it.
Matilda the Musical runs at Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday, September 8 2018. Click here to get your tickets.