Matilda the Musical review

Theatre, Musicals Cambridge Theatre , Covent Garden Tuesday April 24 2018 - Sunday February 10 2019
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© Manuel Harlan

'Matilda'

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Miria Parvin (Miss Honey) and Craige Els (Miss Trunchball) in 'Matilda'

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© Manuel Harlan

'Matilda'

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© Manuel Harlan

Craige Els (Miss Trunchball) in 'Matilda'

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© Manuel Harlan

Sharlene Whyte (Mrs Phelps) in 'Matilda'

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© Manuel Harlan

'Matilda'

 (© Manuel Harlan)
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© Manuel Harlan

Michael 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
To improve this listing email: feedback@timeout.com
    • Cambridge Theatre Tue-Fri £20-£67.50, Sat & Sun £20-£74.50, Premium Seats £95-£122.50
    • Cambridge Theatre Tue-Fri £20-£67.50, Sat & Sun £20-£74.50, Premium Seats £95-£122.50
    • Cambridge Theatre Tue-Fri £20-£67.50, Sat & Sun £20-£74.50, Premium Seats £95-£122.50
    • Cambridge Theatre Tue-Fri £20-£67.50, Sat & Sun £20-£74.50, Premium Seats £95-£122.50
    • Cambridge Theatre Tue-Fri £20-£67.50, Sat & Sun £20-£74.50, Premium Seats £95-£122.50
    • Cambridge Theatre Tue-Fri £20-£67.50, Sat & Sun £20-£74.50, Premium Seats £95-£122.50
    • Cambridge Theatre Tue-Fri £20-£67.50, Sat & Sun £20-£74.50, Premium Seats £95-£122.50
    • Cambridge Theatre Tue-Fri £20-£67.50, Sat & Sun £20-£74.50, Premium Seats £95-£122.50

Average User Rating

4.4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:72
  • 4 star:15
  • 3 star:9
  • 2 star:6
  • 1 star:2
LiveReviews|105
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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

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.


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

Highly entertaining, with Trunchbull, Matilda's dad and Miss Honey's singing particular highlights. Though some of the magical scenes humiliating Trunchbull are missed here, which is a shame.

Beware the seats are highly steeped - avoid the really high up rows.

Tastemaker

Really wanted to love this show but just felt there was something missing.. The first half is extremely slow, it takes a long while to get going. It picks up a bit in the second half but unfortunately by that time it is a bit too little too late.

This story (both book and film version) is so magical and exciting, I can't really see why they didn't use more of the fun scenes for the show. Shame as I feel it could have been so much better.

Tastemaker

I thought I'd be the only one to question this production, but it seems not. I was so disappointed and I'm not sure why it has such rave reviews elsewhere. Somehow it wasn't believable and nowhere near as magical or exciting as the film/book.


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

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! :)



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!

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.

tastemaker

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. 

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.


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!

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!)


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!


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

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! 

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.

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...

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. 

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!

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. 

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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