The celebrated British musical "Matilda" has arrived on Broadway. NY1's Roma Torre filed the following review.
Broadway can add yet another blockbuster to its roster of kid-friendly shows. "Matilda", based on Roald Dahl's 1988 children's novel, is wickeder than "Wicked", as beastly as the beasts in "The Lion King" and as crowd-pleasing as anything on the Great White Way.
Welcome to the dark playground that is inside Roald Dahl's head, a strange world dominated by alphabet blocks and a chorus of revolting kids manically dancing and singing about their miraculousness.
Matilda Wormwood is a miracle child with the brains of Einstein and the telekinetic powers of Carrie. Her horrible parents send her to a horrible school run by a horrible headmistress. Just as it seems hopeless for the pint-sized protagonist, Matilda discovers an ally in her loving teacher, Miss Honey.
Beneath the show's cartoonish exterior beats a very real heart, and suddenly, we're feeling pangs of empathy for this little urchin even as we continue to roar with laughter. How did they do that? A collaborative coup featuring Dennis Kelly's cleverly faithful book, a nasty yet sensitive score by Tim Minchin and technical designs that cannily evoke the dreams and nightmares of childhood.
The mostly American cast, starting with the kids, is spot on, right down to the accents. Milly Shapiro was Matilda the night I attended. I can't recall her ever cracking a smile, yet her captivating turn puts big smiles on our faces and some tears, too.
The Wormwoods, Gabriel Ebert and Lesli Margherita, are wildly wicked. And from the London company, American Lauren Ward's Miss Honey is as lovely as Bertie Carvel's Miss Trunchbull is loathsome, delivering an Olivier Award-winning performance that puts the devil squarely in the details.
"Matilda, The Musical" is a conceptual triumph. Director Matthew Warchus and company's shared vision is an inspired tribute to the art and craft of theatrical storytelling.