Matlida’s last month in Melbourne

Matilda’s last Melbourne performance is November 11. If you haven’t seen it, well that’s not right. And as Matilda says, “If that’s not right.  You have to put it right!”.

And do it soon because there aren’t many seats left.

The Royal Shakespeare Company's production of Roald Dahl's Matilda The Musical. Photo by Manuel Harlan
The Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical. Photo by Manuel Harlan

It’s a gloriously wonderful piece of theatre that left me in tears on its opening night in March. I’m going to try and see it again, even if just because I’ve only seen one of the four casts of children.

This award-winning show is what happens when everything in the development of a show and everything on the stage is about telling a story, rather than about selling tickets with razzle dazzle and assumptions about what audiences want.

Dennis Kelly’s book captures the tone of Roald Dahl’s original book and makes it live on the stage, without feeling like a book. It’s honest to the source, but is totally original and always lets the extreme and outrageous characters be seen as real people who make choices and aren’t just evil and wrong or good and right.

Rob Horwell’s design of books and blocks makes the stage world as imaginative as any world a child creates when they play, and his costumes evoke memories for the audience without forcing the story into a specific time.

Peter Darlin’s choreography is like a re-invention of play and dance; it’s how we dance and play in our heads when we think no one is watching.

Matthew Warchus’s direction ensures that every part of this amazing show is telling the same story.

And a guy from Western Australia wrote the music and lyrics.

Tim Minchin is as close to genius as Stephen Sondheim is. He finds rhyme where it shouldn’t exist without letting the word-fun distract from the meaning of the songs. His music’s full of joy without hiding the melancholy that underscores all feelings all happiness. A consistent audience favourite  is “When I grow up”. It’s about the excitement of growing up, the frustration of not being grown up, and the understanding that being grown up isn’t as wonderful as we imagine it to be. It’s the kind of song that wrings your heart as it makes you  smile.

The cast and ensemble are simply brilliant and everyone ensures that even the smallest role is as important as Matilda, the little girl who lets kids know that even when they don’t get the love they deserve that they can change their stories and be heroes.

Matilda is everything great musical theatre can be.

And if you do miss it in Melbourne, there are short seasons in Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.

Anne-Marie Peard

Anne-Marie spent many years working with amazing artists at arts festivals all over Australia. She's been a freelance arts writer for the last 10 years and teaches journalism at Monash University.

Anne-Marie Peard

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