Matilda the Musical is the worldwide smash hit musical inspired by the famous Roald Dahl children’s book, adapted by Dennis Kelly and with music and lyrics by Australia’s own Tim Minchin. It is now playing in Melbourne until 1 November, after which it will move to Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.
Matilda the Musical first premiered at the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2011 before moving to the West End and Broadway. It has won multiple Olivier awards and Tony awards, including best musical.
I spend much of Matilda the Musical marvelling at the genius of Tim Minchin as a lyricist. His aim seems to be to pack as many words into a line as possible, which means sometimes you may not immediately appreciate the incredibly skilful wit behind the rhymes. Listen out for how the alphabet is cleverly incorporated into ‘School Song’!
I don’t feel that the music is as memorable, except for the two major pieces. The joyous and simultaneous poignant When I Grow Up at the beginning of Act 2 brings tears to my eyes and when the adults start swinging over the front rows it’s a real ‘wow’ moment.
The second song that sticks in my head is ‘Revolting Children’ with the schoolchildren rollocking the melody with abandon as Miss Trunchbull is never seen again.
Unfortunately the part I don’t particularly enjoy about Matilda the Musical is that so many of the songs are inevitably sung by children. Not that they aren’t tuneful and talented, but I find their collective youthful voices rather shrill after a while.
The standout talent is James Millar who plays Miss Agatha Trunchbull. He is absolutely terrifying as the towering, grotesque headmistress and Lady AB literally hides under her chair when she/he appears!
If you have young children beware there are a few more scary moments. [Spoiler alert] At certain points the lights go out, laser beams quiver and a dummy child drops from the ceiling after being hammer-thrown by the ears!
Matilda the Musical is a lot of fun, very funny and an accessible way to introduce children to musical theatre if they’re familiar with Roald Dahl’s story. It is billed as being suitable for 6+ years and given some of the darker moments I think that’s right. It’s also a long show, 2 hours 40 mins including interval.
- the show is mostly suitable for 6+ years because it can be scary at times and the show is long;
- restricted view tickets in the stalls are good value because not much of the view is actually obscured for long periods of time;
- have an interval snack ready so that you can prepare for the second act;
- no photography or video is allowed in the theatre;
- closest train station is Parliament;
- Prebook parking at Wilson Parking or Secure Parking for best rates; and
- read my other tips for taking kids to the theatre.