Matilda the Musical review

Theatre, Musicals Cambridge Theatre , Covent Garden Until Sunday February 10 2019
Recommended
4 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars
(125user reviews)
 (© Manuel Harlan)
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© Manuel Harlan'Matilda'
 (© Manuel Harlan)
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© Manuel HarlanMiria Parvin (Miss Honey) and Craige Els (Miss Trunchball) in 'Matilda'
 (© Manuel Harlan)
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© Manuel Harlan'Matilda'
 (© Manuel Harlan)
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© Manuel HarlanCraige Els (Miss Trunchball) in 'Matilda'
 (© Manuel Harlan)
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© Manuel HarlanSharlene Whyte (Mrs Phelps) in 'Matilda'
 (© Manuel Harlan)
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© Manuel Harlan'Matilda'
 (© Manuel Harlan)
7/7
© Manuel HarlanMichael Begley (Mr Wormwood) in 'Matilda'

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Tim Minchin's wickedly good story of a schoolgirl genius is still irresistible

'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 the 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.

This review is from 2012. The cast of 'Matilda' now includes David Shannon as Miss Trunchball, Tom Edden as Mr Wormwood, Marianne Benedict as Mrs Wormwood, and Gina Beck as Miss Honey. The role of Matilda is shared by Lily-Mae Evans, Emma Moore, Kitty Peterkin and Savannah Read.

How to get cheap tickets: £5 day seats for 'Matilda' are available for young people aged 16-25 only. Arrive at the Cambridge Theatre box office well before it opens at 10am for your best chance of buying a ticket. One seat per person. In person only.

By: Sam Marlowe

Posted:

Venue name: Cambridge Theatre
Contact:
Address: Earlham Street
London
WC2H 9HU
Transport: Tube: Covent Garden
Event website: http://www.matildathemusical.com
Static map showing venue location

Average User Rating

4.4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:78
  • 4 star:27
  • 3 star:11
  • 2 star:6
  • 1 star:2
LiveReviews|125
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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.

1 of 1 found helpful

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!!

tastemaker

THE BEST SHOW! So fabulous from start to finish, I laughed and cried and everything in between. The production is perfect in every way and those Children are amazingly talented. I am not a musical fan or a fan of west end child actors so the fact I had my socks blown off by this shows that when this much energy, imagination and talent is put into a musical it is pure entertainment. I will be going again.

Tastemaker

Childhood favourite classic Matilda has been turned into an amazing musical in the west end well worth watching! I loved every minute of it. The set was so impressive and well designed, immersive and adaptable that got me "wow" every single time it changed! The performances were all brilliant, Matilda's parents were hilarious, Miss Trunchbull was so funny but the kids were the true stars of the show, Matilda's performance got me in tears. Of course he choreographies, the music and the songs are amazing too, I keep singing them in my head although it has been a while! This show is simply a must go. There's mainly highs and a few lows but it'll get you a feelgood feeling in the end!!! Highly recommended!


tastemaker

Matilda was such a fun night out and much above my expectations. The young actors were really cute and the talent of the entire cast shone across the board. I found the set particularly impressive, with its gigantic alphabet blocks hanging above the audience and forming keywords from the story. The live music sounded great and I was astonished to discover that, when the musicians came out of the pit, there was only a handful of them. Although there aren't any particularly catchy numbers, the feisty atmosphere and larger than life characters are a true hit in this 2010 musical by Tim Minchin.

tastemaker

I have wanted to see Matilda since it was first released at the west end and I must say it was definitely worth the wait! A truly fabulous performance from all the actors, particularly the children. The songs were very catchy and although the story slightly differed from the film it was still enjoyable with lots of immersive moments, there may have even been a child falling from the ceiling at one stage! Perfect viewing for people of all ages :)

tastemaker

What an utterly magical experience. The set was so beautifully designed and it really sent you back to your childhood with silly characters and the charm of Roald Dahl. The children in particular were incredibly talented with Bruce Bogtrotter stealing the show with his hilarious and surprising solo in the second half. The actor that played Mr Wormwood was a hit with everyone in the audience but it was the little girl that played Matilda who conducted the stage like she'd been in theatre for decades. I highly recommend everyone goes and catches a show as it is perfect for a night out on the West End with friends or family! 

tastemaker

Wow wow wow! I was so impressed with this musical - the children were great and Ms. Trunchable was played so well. A great take on the book and a very impressive stage set in a small theatre.

Tastemaker

Matilda is a truly excellent and a miracle of a show, went to see it with my Mum and we both loved it! High energy, entertaining throughout, happy upbeat, great songs although I hadn’t heard of any of them before and it didn’t drag at any point. We were lucky enough to get seats in the stalls section and this definitely added to the whole experience which I would recommend. You would probably miss out if you were seated higher up with members of the cast running throughout the audience, confetti showers and the clever implementation of swings and scooters on stage. The kids in particular were amazing so enthusiastic with incredible performances from all and the staging was impressive. Miss Trunchbull was totally villainous with the dreaded threat of the 'Chokey’ and hilarious at the same time. Her parents were perfectly vile and dreadful as to be expected. We laughed a lot watching this, a great and entertaining musical that I would happily see again.


For anyone that grew up reading the Roald Dahl book and watching the film adaptation, Matilda on the West End certainly doesn’t disappoint! The set design brought Matilda’s world to life, especially the number with the swings which had the cast swinging right the way out into the audience.

The younger cast members are so incredibly talented and looked like they were having the tone of their lives on stage. The most memorable performances came from Miss Trunchball (classic villain getting the biggest applause at the end) and Bruce Bogtrotter who almost stole the show from Matilda herself.

This show left me with a warm fuzzy feeling :)

tastemaker

If the raw material is good, it's hard to go wrong. And Matilda the Musical is very right! Tim Minchin's music is, on the whole, wonderful. There are one or two numbers which are a bit odd but, hey, I'm nit-picking. The children are fabulous, chiselled dancing, singing and somersaulting their way through the show. Miss Trunchbull (Hayden Tee) is wonderfully unpleasant and, at times, downright terrifying, also managing to bring touches of humour into play.Children may be cowering in their seats but that's alright as we all know children, bizarrely, love to be frightened. In contrast to her/him, Miss Honey (Gina Beck), is the soft and gentle person she needs to be. Savannah Field plays a good Matilda annunciating clearly and bringing her imaginative stories to life.

The set curves its way over the audience with books galore and clever choreography makes excellent use of the set at times.

If you are lucky enough to sit in the stalls you really will feel part of the experience.

tastemaker

Despite the lack of the infamous magical scene from the Matilda film, which, let’s be honest, is one of the best scenes from our childhood film collections, there is no denying the brilliance, energy and comedy of Matilda the Musical! In its 8th year at Covent Garden’s Cambridge Theatre, it’s one well worth seeing and absolutely suitable for all ages! Everyone was impeccable but special mentions to whomever played Miss Trunchbull and Bruce Bogtrotter this evening...you were both particularly hilarious! 🤗😂

tastemaker

Matlida has to be one of my favourite west end shows! I could watch it again and again! Great cast and brilliant set! Kids will love it but so will the adults! 

I've watched this twice already and still don't think I could get bored of watching it again! Miss Trunchball was played fabulously and definitely was the highlight of the show for me! All the children are so talented and a great set!

tastemaker

The children are brilliant and the set is amazing when Matilda tells her stories of the acrobats. I did find the evil characters a bit too much of a caricature (compared with say, Wicked, Book of Mormon, Fanny & Alexander) but the simplification may be necessary to make it more appealing to the younger audience. Miss Truchbull nevertheless is an amazing villain and a definitely favorite.

tastemaker

This is a cute musical with lovely casts especially Matilda and the children. The songs are catchy and fun. It is very entertaining, definitely one of the best musicals I have ever watched.

Tastemaker

A fabulous, fabulous musical that stays true to the original story while bringing emotions and fun to the stage thanks to catchy songs, talented children and flawless performances.

A delight

tastemaker

One of my favourite musicals on the West End? How can you not fall in love with Matilda?

The set is incredible. I don’t wait to ruin it but the song at the school gate is my favourite to watch.

All the children are wonderful, but Bruce stole the show. His solo had the crowd clapping.

I have seen the show twice now and I loved it more the second time.

Whether you are an adult, child or somewhere in between, go see it.

tastemaker

This is an excellent adaptation of a great children's classic story by Roald Dahl. The script and musicality are beautifully crafted as is the set and directing which all combine to build the story wonderfully. The cast and acting are spot on and Miss Trunchbull could not be faulted. This is a superb show that children and adults can both enjoy.


There is no wrong choice here. It's the right one! Great adaptation of one of Roald Dahl's classics. 

I've seen it twice now - when it first opened - and 5 years later this musical still took my breath away a few times. Impeccable production, beautiful stage design, formidable songs and amazing cast! 

Children will have a great time and adults can enjoy this production 100%.

Tastemaker

It’s impossible not to enjoy this: it’s an all singing, all dancing, big theatre production with a fail safe story. The set is intricately designed and moves seamlessly from one scene to another. I was constantly in awe of the children who are on stage performing for a couple of hours a night. But for me, it was actually Miss Truchbull who stole the show. Played by a man, the character was just as ferocious and funny as I remembered from the book and film. If I'm fault finding, the child who played Matilda was slightly over dramatic with some of her lines.

tastemaker

What a fun play :) It's definitely one for all the family and yes, the story can be dark at places but what do you expect from none other than Tim Minchin and Roald Dahl? 


The actors including the children are superb and complete professionals. I am sure the other reviewers will talk about them so I wont spend much time on them. For me it was more about the set, the props and the slickness of jumping from Matilda's story to her school to the front room. 


The set is captivating and I loved the boxes around the stage spelling out words which then mean something as the play goes on. 


Complete thumbs up. As with any theater production, the second half is always better but to me it was truly the best bit. 


tastemaker

3.5 stars!!!!

I haven't seen any kind of remake or reproduction of the childhood classic Matilda since I was a little girl so this was hugely anticipated on my part.

Firstly I have to applaud the child for remembering their lines at such young ages.. The stage setting was very lovely also!!

Now for the teeny tiny flaws. As children they sometimes tended to overact a part which was foreseen. The main character would also repeat her lines slightly stiffly at times too.

I also felt that the adult actors were screaming a lot and over dramatised many parts of the play. I came to the conclusion that this production was infact aimed at children... A few people left during the intermission so Im sure they will agree when I say that.

However, the second part of the show turned out to be less childish and rather fantastic !! I came away smiling and thoroughly entertained. A slight twist on the childhood classic I remember but a decent effort and the second is worth seeing!.


An adaptation that does full anarchic justice to Roald Dahl's original story. Tim Minchin's songs buzz with energy - with the odd gag that only adults will appreciate - while the young cast do a fabulous job alongside the grown-ups. I particularly liked Tom Edden as the check-suited wheeler-dealer Mr Wormwood. If you don't find yourself grinning from ear to ear at the end of this, then you're probably not a human being. 


tastemaker

There is no shortage of cheese in this production of Matilda, but I loved it!  It has a real feel-good element about it and I defy anyone to leave the theatre without a smile on their faces - yes, some jokes and scenes are obvious, but you laugh out loud anyway.  The staging is impressive and cleverly done.  A fun day out for the family.

tastemaker

It's a fun show.


The songs are very clever which is expect with Tim Minchin but I wouldn't say I left singing the songs or they were stuck in my head.


Very funny with an emotional undertone which is supported by the amazing cast, especially the kids.



It's cheesy and a bit cringe at times but Matilda certainly delivers on the feel-good factor front. The acting was faultless; Miss Trunchball stood out particularly. Matilda herself I felt lacked a little emotionally, she was quite shouty and not at all similar to the girl portrayed in the book. The way the setting adapted to each scene was done to perfection and the trickery of the magic used is executed really well. Despite enjoying the show I can't help but think that I may have liked it more when it first came to the west end. 

tastemaker

Roald Dahl's classic tale of Matilda did not disappoint on stage. Incredibly talented young kids, amazing set design and flawless choreography. It was fun, heartwarming and impressive. Sure at times it was hard to understand exactly every word the children were singing but I just reminded myself how young they all were and that the show would be nothing without them. Miss Trunchbulll was a serious highlight of this show for me. A very enjoyable evening at the theatre with family or friends. 

tastemaker

You can't go wrong with a Roald Dahl classic turned into a musical can you?! The theatre and scenery are fantastic and the show itself doesn't disappoint. Loved the soundtrack and all the children in it are ridiculously talented. The trunchball was brilliant. Loved this show!


Roald Dahl's classic tale of Matilda did not disappoint on stage. Incredibly talented young kids, amazing set design and flawless choreography. It was fun, heartwarming and impressive. Sure at times it was hard to understand exactly every word the children were singing but I just reminded myself how young they all were and that the show would be nothing without them. Miss Trunchbulll was a serious highlight of this show for me. A very enjoyable evening at the theatre with family or friends. 

Tastemaker

I'm not sure if it was just because we were sat literally on the back row but Matilda didn't do it for me. I found it very shouty with silly, cheesy jokes (which was probably great for the kids) and no stand out songs (in fact a week later I can't remember one). Facilities in the upper circle were incredibly poor with only one set of loos meaning I spent the whole interval queuing and actually made it out half way through the second acts opening song! As well as mediocre songs the acting and singing were also nothing special. Although I didn't enjoy this musical as much as others the set was amazing - colourful with plenty of moving parts which helped tell the story in a unique, imaginative way.  Overall I am glad I saw it, enjoyed parts of it but would not recommend it friends or family.

tastemaker

Amazing performance! Although its geared to a younger audience, every minute of it is exciting. The lighting and the stage have been smartly designed; the performance is well choreographed; and the cast is fantastic. There are one or two moments that could be scary for children though, but this shouldn't one from seeing such a well done show. Highly recommend it. 

tastemaker

Tim Minchin's adaptation of the infamous Roald Dahl book was a bit of a disappointment, there aren't many memorable songs within the show and I found some of the performances a bit screechy and shouty.  One of the most memorable songs was a 'Littlte Bit Naughty'.  I found it a bit difficult to understand some of the kids singing and talking during the performance.


The set is magnificent and I love the way it cleverly changes and adapts throughout.  The second half was much stronger than the first, particularly as it focussed on Miss Trunchbull's character.  The actor that played her was very convincing and looked just as I remembered her in the book.  Other strong performances came from Miss Honey and one of the kids, I particularly liked his performance in the second half as he stands on a desk and belts out a song.


Good fun, but not my favourite West End production.

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!

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!

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. 

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.  

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!


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!

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!

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!

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.

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 :) 

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.

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.


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!



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.

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.


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

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