Matilda the Musical

Theatre , Musicals Cambridge Theatre , Covent Garden Until Sunday May 28 2017
Critics' choice
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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(88 user reviews)
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1/11
© Manuel Harlan

'Matilda'

2/11
© Manuel Harlan

'Matilda'

3/11
© Manuel Harlan

'Matilda'

4/11
© Manuel Harlan

'Matilda'

5/11
© Manuel Harlan

'Matilda'

6/11
© Manuel Harlan

'Matilda'

7/11
© Manuel Harlan

'Matilda'

8/11
© Manuel Harlan

'Matilda'

9/11
© Manuel Harlan

'Matilda'

10/11
© Manuel Harlan

'Matilda'

11/11
© Manuel Harlan

'Matilda'

'My mummy says I'm a miracle,' lisps a pampered mini-me at a purgatorial kiddies' birthday party at the outset of this delicious, treacly-dark family show. The obnoxious ma and pa of its titular, gifted, pint-sized heroine are not, of course, quite so doting. But 'Matilda' must be making its creators, playwright Dennis Kelly and comedian-songsmith Tim Minchin, a very pair of proud parents.

Opening to rave reviews in Stratford-upon Avon before transferring to the West End in 2011 and snatching up Olivier Awards with all the alacrity of a sticky-fingered child in a sweetshop, Matthew Warchus's RSC production remains a treat. With hindsight, Kelly and Minchin's musical, born of the 1988 novel by that master of the splendidly grotesque Roald Dahl, is a little too long and, dramatically, a tad wayward. But like curly-haired little girl in the famous nursery rhyme, when it is good, it is very, very good. And it's even better when it's horrid.

The past few months have seen some cast changes, including, alas, the departure of Bertie Carvel's tremendous Miss Trunchbull, headmistress of the dread Crunchem Hall School, former Olympic hammer-thrower and a gorgon of monumental nastiness, complete with scarily Thatcher-esque tics of purse-lipped gentility and faux concern.

David Leonard doesn't quite match the squirm-inducing, hair-raising detail of Carvel in the role, but his more butch, granite-faced version is fantastically horrible nonetheless. And if Paul Kaye as Matilda's loathsome father Mr Wormwood was so greasily repellant that just watching him made you feel you needed a scalding shower, Steve Furst has more of a wide-boyish, casual cruelty; Annette McLaughlin as his Latin-dancing wife is a leggy wonder of ripe raspiness, spite and vanity. And Haley Flaherty is winning as the kindly Miss Honey, neatly side-stepping priggishness and conveying the tremulous courage of the much-kicked underdog, with a singing voice of sweetness and power.

As for the children, they are irresistible, stomping and skipping through Peter Darling's angular choreography, thrilling young audiences and push-pulling grown-ups from tears to gasps to laughter with such relentless energy that it leaves you breathless, exhilarated and marvelling at the many ways in which Minchin, Kelly and Dahl demonstrate that growing up is a lifelong endeavour. For kids, yes, but also for the children that we all remain at heart, this is wise, wicked, glorious fun.

Venue name: Cambridge Theatre
Contact:
Address: Earlham St
London
WC2H 9HU
Transport: Tube: Covent Gdn
Price: £24-£85. Runs 2hrs 40mins

Average User Rating

4.5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:66
  • 4 star:12
  • 3 star:4
  • 2 star:4
  • 1 star:2
LiveReviews|88
2 people listening
GP
1 of 1 found helpful
Staff Writertastemaker


I really wasn’t fussed by this show at all. The telling of the story itself lacks so much of the magic the book (and more so the film) gave us and it takes ages to get the transformation od Matilda going. All in all I found it a little dry (sorry!)

I also thought the staging and costume was quite dated, it feels as though it might be time to revamp the Art Direction fora more modern look and feel.

GordyUK
tastemaker

I feel like i'm being disingenuous going against the flow here, but I really didn't enjoy this show. I didn't understand at all why this has won so many Oliviers. Perhaps my expectations were set too high, perhaps the Matilda actress on the evening I went was an understudy or having a bad day but I found the singing weak, the whole show arduously long. The set was stunning and the actor playing Miss Trunchball  was very good and has amazing comic timing, but overall, I really wouldn't have gone and certainly wouldn't go again even for a free ticket... sorry

Jolynn K
tastemaker

From the talented cast to the sets, the choreography to the musical scores, Matilda is nothing short of amazing! 

I hadn't watched the movie and only remembered bits and pieces of the story from my childhood before watching the musical. It was both mesmerising and exciting watching the magic and the story unfold. Some songs were so mischievous yet funny- they were brilliant! I was so carried away by the plot of the story alongside the change in emotions and energy of the songs. 'Revolting Children' was still stuck in my head even days after watching it! 


Tip: My friends and I went early to queue for their £5 tickets - 16 tickets are held for every performance for age 16-25 only, and are available at the box office from 10am on the same day. We arrived at 8am and fortunately got the tickets. Go on days when they have matinee performance, you'll have a higher chance of getting the tickets (16 for each, that makes 32 tickets on the same day).
Even if you can't get the 
£5 tickets, Matilda is worth paying the full price for! :)



Daniel L
Tastemaker

Mathilda is by far my favourite musical in the west end! And I have definitely seen more than 30 to date. I always inevitably compare all musicals to this brilliant one and almost nothing else comes close. The child actors are brilliant, and the cross-dressing headmistress is so good as a stern lady that it reminded me of my time back in school. I loved the used of the set, especially during the alphabet song. The tunes are extremely catchy and is another proof that Tim Minchin really is our generation’s lyrical genius. The venue is also small enough that even on seats far away, you don’t feel too detached from all the action on stage. Seen it twice and definitely will be back again! Due to labour laws, the child actors switch frequently between each night and hence you always get to see a new prodigy on stage!

Mei M
Tastemaker

I'm usually not a great fan of musicals, and I have to admit I was kind of dragged to this one by a friend of mine. As a kid, I used to love the film so I decided to go and give it a chance. It didn't disappoint me at all, actually it was absolutely brilliant! The kids are extremely talented and the show provides amazing entertaining. Music, lights and acting are beyond perfect and I came out of the theatre excited like a child. It made me want to watch the movie again and check out other musicals :) a must see.

Mr FOMOist

With the UK in the grips of #Brexit turmoil, we decided to entertain the kid in us and watched Matilda last night. Clever technical production, extremely talented kids that really make you question your ow shortcomings, dancing around sharing the joy of being a kid. The theatrical performance was engaging, music was melodic and the cackles of the kids in the audience made it even better. If you grew up watching the movie, it's a must-see. If you haven;t watched the movie (like me), it'll make you want to watch it. 

Poppy L
Tastemaker

I recently saw Matilda and loved it. Being a fan of the childhood film, I was conscious that this adaptation could be aimed at children and young families. The audience indicated this, however the production couldn't have been more accessible. Matilda was incredibly mature, funny, moving and incredibly slick. Produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company, with music and lyrics by Tim Minchin, the show has many layers of complexity. The sets were also mesmerising and inspired - I would definitely recommend Matilda to all.

k-chis

Absolutely brilliant!! Seriously talented kids in the production and larger than life characters to entertain all. The production as a whole was really impressive and captured the magic of the story. Definitely worth going to see!

Georgie
Tastemaker

I had waited SO LONG to get to see Matilda that I was a little worried I would be disappointed when it came to it, but I wasn't. In fact, it went beyond my expectations. The intelligence of Matilda the character is mirrored by the intelligence of the script and song writing. The music is super catchy, and in some cases genius. The song that manages to incorporate the alphabet blew my mind! It's so brilliantly made, and the girl who played Matilda during my Saturday matinee performance was sublime - what a voice for someone so small.

The choreography also was out of this world - absolutely outstanding, not one person (most of the cast are children) put a step wrong. I adore the film and slightly hoped the show would feature more of the amazing magic but as magic isn't real i'll forgive them for not making people and portraits and chocolates fly across the room. I'd urge anyone who loves musicals and performance to get themselves tickets. Thought they're a little expensive, it's a wonderful afternoon out and I adored it.


(one little niggle however is that due to it being very child friendly, there are a lot of kids in the audience loudly chomping on sweets, rustling wrappers and fidgeting. It's annoying as hell and makes you want to lock them in the chokey!)

Harriet

I bought tickets to see Matilda with my Mum for her birthday, and we both absolutely loved it. While not on par with The Book of Mormon for comedy or The Lion King for the set and over all enjoyment, this is a lovely production which is definitely worth seeing. Matilda, for one, is a brilliant little actress who completely steals the show. She's on stage for pretty much every scene and has so many lines that I have no idea how she remembers them, but she does a fantastic job and brought a tear to my eye (and a full on sob from my mother) at the end of the show! Miss Trunchball is also amazing. While not as scary as the lady in the film (although I was 6 when I first saw it at the cinema so that may have something to do with it) she makes a brilliant, and very funny villain - My only complaint is with the bar, who charged us £7 for a small glass of wine in a disposable cup!

Tex R

Excellent production, everything about this show I loved - top notch

Ros A
Tastemaker

I saw Matilda this weekend just past when I took my 13 year old goddaughter to see it. I thought it was overall very good. There are a few good catchy tunes and the characters are loud, obnoxious and funny. Ms Trunchbull was hilarious and very camp (played by a man) but I must admit it wasn't quite the terrifying character I remember from the books as a kid. Mr Wormwood was fantastic though, and the kids were largely fabulous. Certainly a good show for kids and much fun to be had. You won't get bored! 

K M
Staff Writer

The whole production and staging was brilliant! The kids acting and singing was energetic and fun. This show isnt just for children, grown ups will enjoy it too.

GeorgeX
Tastemaker

I was expecting more from this musical. I think it was more childish than what it should have been. Also, the set designs were too plain - this story could easily have more impressive set designs. Finally, the songs were not the ones to remember after show...

Richard N
Tastemaker

Matilda deserves to stay on the West End for a good long time. Roald Dahl's classic tale is brought to life with unforgettable songs (When I Grow Up) and imaginative staging. The children are adorable and they truly encapsulate the British primary school experience. I loved the songs and the choreography, with a fantastic ensemble that truly seemed to be in their element. Excellent choice for a night out. 

Tina
Tastemaker

I am generally a bit weary of the mainstream musicals that draw crowds of tourists season after season - most are a good entertainment for a night, but are forgotten as soon as the curtain goes down. Matilda, however, really did exceed my expectations, not only because of the great production work and amazingly talented cast (the kids!), but also because of the magical story that will touch hearts and mids of children and adults alike!

Noel
Staff Writer

Having heard so many glowing reports from friends on the show, we decided we had to see it. We were not let down at all. The whole family loved it. A great show, wonderful production. The cast were amazing. Our kids want to go again. 

Jane G.
Tastemaker

I wasn't sure what I would think about seeing it but I was so very pleasantly surprised. What an absolute delight. I loved it from the start! Don't miss it!

Sosh_uk
Tastemaker

Fantastic musical. Great set and songs. Matilda was fab, as wee the rest of the children. My friends and I thoroughly enjoyed it and think it maybe one of the best musicals i have seen, Its a must for adults and kids, I can assure you that you will love it and want to go again!

Chesca R
Tastemaker

I love this show. I have seen it a couple of times and have loved it every time. I am a huge fan of Tim Minchin and he has done a storming job on the show's songs. The acting, sets and songs are all brilliant. On paper a show full of children acting and singing should make a sensible person steer clear but all of the child actors are excellent. Each time I have seen it the actor playing Matilda would make Roald Dahl himself suitably proud. Without doubt though the star of the show is the actor who plays Ms Trunchball, they are hilarious and worth the ticket price all by themselves. 

Livvi AT
Tastemaker

After years of waiting and with super high expectations, Matilda the musical did not disappoint. In fact, it excelled and is by far the most slick, smart and laugh out loud hilarious show on the West End. 


Once you get over the sheer talent of kids who look like they should still be learning their times tables, Matilda is excellently choreographed, with catchy, punchy songs with clever lyrics and memorable tunes. The set is astounding and the way it is utilised, from swings that come out into the audience to lazer beams, is seamless and exciting. 


Although it is a children's book, there is not one person who will not find Craig Els as Mrs Trunchbull side splitting funny yet sinister at the same time. And the best part? Matilda the Musical stays true to its British Roald Dahl roots through costumes, accents and humour, making it a true British triumph.  

Tara P
Tastemaker

One of my favourite london experiences of the last few years, Matilda is a delight for kids and adults.


From the exquisitely designed stage that keeps you interested until the curtain goes up, to the precocious brats and of course the wonderful miss trunchbull - there's enough to entertain for hours.


There's no question - if you're even thinking about it then just go! If you're a group of just adults and are of average height or above, I'd recommend the first row of the upper circle as the view was fantasti (but difficult for children to see over the bar).


Enjoy!

Alex W

This has to be one of the most insightful, refreshing productions on the West End at the moment..written by an Australian no less. This is the Pixar/Disney of musicals at the moment. There is a layer of complexity and maturity that will have adults nodding (and crying) in agreement and children laughing at the antics and crossdressing. The children are often oblivious to how poignant this production is in recalling the joy of childhood and our view of adulthood from this time in our lives. Melodically you'll come out singing most of the themes, and love the staging. Take the kids, but don't let them see you love it more than them!

Luisa G
Tastemaker

Great show, with really amazingly talented kids! I also liked the fact they used adults as kids at some points. I would definitely recommend this to anyone wanting to go to the theatre!

Laura B
Tastemaker

A fabulous show and 5* night out. The songs are enjoyable, the set and staging are creative, clever and captivating. All actors are just superb. I watched the entire show with a massive grin on my face, it is immensely amusing and just wonderful. I can only echo all the other positive reviews. And I will also be going to see it again!

Eleanor F
Staff Writer

This is a brilliant, brilliant show. As other Users say, I also found myself planning the next trip to see it on the way out of the theatre. It has a dark, clever quality missing from most musicals, and yet at the same time is hugely uplifting, spirited and energetic. The staging is among the best I have seen, and the performers, especially the children, are outrageously powerful. Go and see.

Rosie T
Staff Writer

This is by far the best musical I have seen. The music/score is brilliant, the performers are brilliant, the staging is brilliant, it's all brilliant! I have been once and am due to go again next month- cannot wait! My friend had seen this 8 times! Guy's that's how good this show really is :) 

Tatiana N
Staff Writer

This is one amazing musical. I had no expectations about this as it was a recommendation from a friend when I didn't know which musical to choose to take my mum whilst she was in town. The kids were simply brilliant - I'm still amazed by how good performers they are at such a tiny age - and so was all the cast. Also a big congrats to the team that built that incredible scenario as it was one of the best ones I've seen till this date! It's really worth every penny and even worth see it again and again. And the best thing is that both kids and grown ups loved it. Oh and I still have my paper airplane as a souvenir.

Ashleigh Arnott
Staff Writer

I am not ashamed (well, only a tiny bit ashamed) to admit that I love musicals, and have seen a lot of them. Matilda is hands down the best show I have ever seen. It must be some combination of wit, charm and intense talent that made me feel so completely overcome by joy that I started crying. In the first scene. Both times I have been to see it. The lyrics and music and staging and direction are completely genius – children clearly love the show but I don't know a grown-up who wouldn't be delighted by it. Long may it run so that I can see it at least another five times. Incidentally, my boyfriend hates musicals. He cried, too.

Warwick W

Loved it, loved it, loved it! 

I watched it with my wife before we had kids, I've now watched it with my 5 year old, and I've watched it with my friends.

Everyone I recommend says it's the best show they've watched in years - I have to agree myself!


Caroline M

I've seen this three times now with different casts and kids of various ages. It's a stone cold British classic. It's so much more subtle and beautifully put together than pretty much anything else on the West End. I took my five-year-old when it first opened and he still talks about it. I honestly think it'll be something that stays with him, even when he grows up.

Tom
moderatorStaff Writer

Great family entertainment, Mrs Trunchball steals the show. I'd heard it might be too scary for little ones but our 5 year old loved every minute.

From The Box Office

Mrs Trunchball is up there with our favourite scariest women on the West-End. This production is worth seeing for the chill factor alone! 

Emma P
Staff Writer

Took the family for a second time this weekend. Was expecting to feel the loss of Bertie Carvel as Miss Trunchbull but Craige Els was excellent. He perhaps didn't convey the vulnerability that Carvel managed in this most monstrous of characters, but he played the comedy to the full. As adults, we were again moved to tears by the depth, subtlety and complexity of Tim Minchin's score and lyrics. Our kids were on the edge of their seats throughout and couldn't stop talking about it afterwards. We all wanted to have a go on the huge swings which make When I Grow Up so hair-raisingly beautiful. I can't think of anyone who wouldn't walk out delighted after seeing this.

bowertron

best musical in London right now. I've seen the show 4 times now every-time I go I love it and everybody I take loves it too. Don't think you need to have kids with you to enjoy this production, you don't. A great night out for the young or the young at heart

Deep S

Fabulous production. Fun, poignant, cool - couldn't have wished for more.

Tom U

I thought it was amazing. Beautiful set and an amazing cast. A wonderful array of songs and music. Each scene was like seeing Roald Dahl write it in front of the audience. No one messed up and no one laughed on stage. The man who played Mrs. Trunchable was surprisingly funny, even though he never smiled. Five stars!

Sam  cohen

Very slow first half ... Poor sceens of endless library , feel asleep . Matilda boring no expression . Second half picked up a bit as teacher could act, a few more diff sceen changes and some story finally!! However end was rushed not sure why, as they could of lost half of the repetitive sceens in the first half. It would of been nice to see the teachers house at lest!!

Seema

Matilda: was an excellent musical. Couldn't have enough of it! would highly recommend it. The performances were excellent . My 6 year old daughter kept talking about it even the next day!

Paul Tame

Matilda - An excellent set with good choreography and music. Excellent cast and theater is comfortable. The show itself is predictable and sometimes the solos are a little over choreographed. The song are part of the narrative of the show, so the songs are not really memorable. Even though they reprise the best material a few times. Might be a little frightening and loud for young children under 5.

George A

Best show in London.. Matilda has a fantastic score, fantastic set and fantastic performers. The show is perfect for families and people who want to have a fantastic night out... Highly highly recommend.

Maiken Thamdrup

One super musical all actores can be proud of beeing a part of. We read the book before the play cause we are from Denmark, but our 2 kids loved it.

Jide

Absolutely brilliant show. The best stage production I have seen in many many years and one of the best pieces of entertainment I have ever seen. Fantastic music, staging and production. Would recommend to everybody!

India

This show is quite definitely one of the most incredible shows I've ever had the fortune to see in the west end. Each and every child and adult who appears on stage brings their own energy to the show, throwing your emotions up down and everywhere inbetween. The visual and sound effects leave your heart racing, and when the interval begins you only just realise how much you were gripping your seat in anticipation for what comes next. A fantastic show that you are guaranteed to fall in love with, whatever age you may be.

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