With a cast of wildly talented children and remarkable adults, 'Matilda The Musical' simply has to be seen to be believed.
Featuring music and lyrics by Australian comedian and musician Tim Minchin, the Royal Shakespeare Company production is slick, polished, fast-paced and genius.
The stage in itself is a work of art. Individual coloured blocks in the centre spelling 'Matilda' sit on swings suspended from the roof. Around it, are hundreds of jumbled letters on Scrabble-like tiles; some spelling out things, which means you're entertained before the show starts, just by looking for words among the colourful chaos.
'Miracle' kicks off the show. It's a hilarious, adorable and high-energy number that showcases all kinds of cringeworthy parent/child relationships (“My mummy says I'm a miracle!”) before introducing the Wormwoods and their unwanted newborn, Matilda.
The production follows Matilda as she grows to be a lot smarter and more clued-in that both her parents and her brother put together.
Unlike the film, however, we meet the gorgeous Miss Honey (Elise McCann) earlier on, and find out about her past in a different way.
Those familiar with both the book and film will more than likely adore this show.
It's a fresh, bright and witty take on its previous forms, but it also maintains the same charm and memorable relationships (the connection between Matilda and Miss Honey, the perfect-for-each-other Mr and Mrs Wormwood to name a few) that have existed from the beginning.
A standout difference in the stage production is that the discovery of Matilda's magic (triggered by the anger and frustration she builds up inside herself) is given more exposure.
The beauty about musicals is that songs can tell a much deeper story than spoken words. 'Quiet', a beautiful, chilling song that Matilda sings, gives a better insight into her abilities than the movie or book could have ever done. She stands on stage, lit up as everyone behind her is frozen: “I'm not quite explaining it right, but this noise becomes anger and the anger is light/Suddenly everything is quiet, like silence but not really silent.”
Miss Trunchbull (James Millar) is portrayed exactly as she should be.
She towers over the children, swings a girl around by her hair (something fans will recognise and be impressed with) and stretches a poor boy's ears.
The genius of this character is her ability to be just as sidesplittingly funny as she is horrifying.
James Millar does an impressive job of playing a rather masculine woman as a man, yet still giving her that slight edge of femininity.
It's something you have to witness to truly appreciate.
Elise McCann is softly spoken, approachable and stunning as Miss Honey. She's the teacher everyone loved in school that you could count on for a hug and good advice, and her performance is nothing short of wonderful.
Mr and Mrs Wormwood (played by Daniel Frederiksen and Nadia Komazec) are the worst parents on the planet. Daniel and Nadia handle their huge personalities with ease, and make the audience laugh with almost every line they deliver, regardless of the cruel things that come out of their mouths.
The choreography in 'Matilda The Musical' is outstanding.
The swings mentioned earlier in the piece are lowered eventually, and the children climb onto them during 'When I Grow Up'. They fling themselves forward on the swings, making the audience burst into applause.
This same level of tight, succinct movements and dancing continues for the entire show as the cast manoeuvre around desks, flip off gymnastic vaults and climb up the school gate.
The highlight of the entire show for me would be 'Revolting Children', a funky, upbeat victory tune that features all the kids celebrating their rebellion against the almighty Trunchbull. It really shows off the immense talents that each and every child cast in this production possesses.
'Matilda The Musical' proves that the only thing that was truly missing from the wonderful tale that has been read and watched by so many over the years, was music.
Tim Minchin's music and lyrics are beautiful, and they capture the very heart and essence of Matilda and her peers in a way that only makes you fall in love with this adventure even more.
1 December 2016-12 February 2017 – Queensland Performing Arts Centre28 February-23 April 2017 – Crown Theatre (Perth)21 May-25 June 2017 – Adelaide Festival Centre