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MATILDA A Girl Who is Dreaming of a Better Life

May 04, 2019 at 3:16 PM

Original Article: http://www.chicagonow.com/lets-play/2019/05/matilda/

Matilda, the treasured novel written by the twisted genius Roald Dahl who felt that children abandoned reading for playing video games and watching mindless television programs wrote this cautionary tale in 1983 to champion reading for kids. Matilda, the world's first super geek, made reading a cool thing to do for children. Just as pertinent today as it was thirty-six years ago, this story is still needed as the younger generation's mental intelligence continues to get eroded by internet games and mind-numbing technology.

The stage musical Matilda at Drury Lane Theatre is based on the adored novel of the same name by Roald Dahls. It has received extensive critical acclaimed and box-office popularity, tied for the most Olivier awards in history, winning seven 2012 Olivier Awards, including Best New Musical. In 2013 Matilda also won five Tony Awards, including the Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical.

Matilda, The Musical, tells the story of an unusual little girl with extraordinary powers who's family makes her feel like an outcast for reading books. This two and a half hour production embraces her love for reading, storytelling and her fantastic imagination from this intelligent 5-year old girl with exceptional talents.

Matilda (Audrey Edwards) is the daughter of abusive parents Mr. Wormwood (Jackson Evans) her father, who is a used car salesman, and television addict. He dismisses Matilda because she is not a boy. Her mother Mrs. Wormwood (Stephanie Gibson) is a very shallow woman who at the birth of Matilda, is only concerned about dancing. This narcissistic mother from hell is more interested in spending money, mainly on herself then the brilliance of her daughter; which she detested.

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Five years later, Matilda still lives unhappily with her parents and her brainless brother Michael, who ignore and mistreat her and is unaware that she is a genius. Often teased by them because she is an avid reader, she finds refuge in library books, which she reads and then creates into her own stories.

Matilda spends most of her time at the local library where she meets Mrs. Phelps (Linda Bright Clay). She shares with the librarian a fascinating story about a couple, one who is world-famous escapologist and the other, an acrobat who long to have a child but they can't. To distract them from the sadness the couple announces that they will be performing an exciting and dangerous act which killed the escapologist's wife. Mrs. Phelps who enjoys hearing Matilda's story get excited each time she shares about the couple but disappointed when Matilda makes her wait for more.

Her family hates the fact the Matilda loves to read, so the father decides to send her to a rundown elementary school, called Crunchem Hall were the meanest principal alive, Miss Agatha Trunchbull runs the school and hates kids. On her first day of school, Matilda quickly realizes that things at school are just as bad at home and she needs to find someone that understands her need to read and to be loved.

Drury Lane's added a few changes to the main storyline of Matilda; however, they showcase Dahl's desire to get kids back to reading. Her remarkable powers over injustice and cruelty dished out by the dictatorial headmistress Miss Trunchbull (Sean Fortunato) daily attacks on the children at Crunchem Hall is a perfect reminder about the wrongs of bullying and how children working together can overcome it.

Fortunato does a masterful job as Miss Trunchbull who don't find value in any child and believes that children are 'Maggots.' He brings the right amount of laughter and fear into the character.

Eben K Logan plays the part of the shy and fragile teacher Ms. Honey who brings the love, appreciation, and companionship to Matilda. Logan, who is unable to be stoic against the overbearing stepsister-in-law Miss Trunchbull, is adorable as Ms. Honey especially when she shares a secret about the loss of her parents to Matilda.

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With the child labor laws, where children in acting roles need to have at least two kids playing each character, we had the pleasure of being entertained by Audrey Edwards as Matilda. Edwards was terrific as the wise beyond her year's little girl who is equipped with special powers. Her connection with Logan seems genuine and will bring tears to the eyes of those seeking to be loved.

Over time and some tea, Matilda and Miss Honey develop a friendship with both sharing their past experiences of love and loss. After Miss Honey finish telling her story, she produces a scarf which Matilda recognizes from her account of the acrobat and the escapologists, which she realizes is the true story of Miss Honey's childhood and the wicked aunt is Miss Trunchbull.

In the end, Matilda does find a better life when she is offered an opportunity to live with Miss Honey. Matilda teaches children and adults a fundamental lesson that although life may be hard, you can always change your circumstances by changing your story and sometimes you have to be a little naughty to do it.

Lastly, all of the children in this play were wonderful and brought an abundance of fun and excitement to make any child in the audience, say to their parents, "I want to be an actor!"

'Recommended' by Let's Play, where it's cool to be at 'Bookworm.' Check it out at Drury Lane Theatre.

Drury Lane Theatre presents the premiere of 
Roald Dahl's Matilda The Musical
Book by Dennis Kelly
Music and Lyrics by Tim Minchin
Orchestrations and Additional Music by Chris Nightingale
Directed and Choreographed by Mitch Sebastian


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