Roald Dahl's Matilda
The Musical
West End promotional poster
MusicTim Minchin
LyricsTim Minchin
BookDennis Kelly
BasisMatilda
by Roald Dahl
Premiere9 December 2010 (2010-12-09): Courtyard Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon
Productions
AwardsCritics' Circle Theatre Award for Best Musical[1]
UK Theatre Award for Best Musical Production[2]
Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Musical[3]
New York Drama Critics' Circle for Best Musical[4]
Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical
Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical

Roald Dahl's Matilda, also known simply as Matilda and Matilda the Musical, is a musical with music and lyrics by Tim Minchin and a book by Dennis Kelly. It is based on the 1988 novel Matilda by Roald Dahl. The musical's narrative centres on Matilda Wormwood, a precocious five-year-old girl with the gift of telekinesis, who loves reading, overcomes obstacles caused by her family and school, and helps her teacher to reclaim her life. After a twelve-week trial run staged by the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) at Stratford-upon-Avon from November 2010 to January 2011, it received its West End premiere on 24 November 2011 at the Cambridge Theatre and its Broadway premiere on 11 April 2013 at the Shubert Theatre.

Matilda the Musical has received widespread critical acclaim and box-office popularity, winning seven 2012 Olivier Awards, including Best New Musical—at the time, the highest number of such awards ever won by a single show.[3] Cleo Demetriou, Kerry Ingram, Eleanor Worthington Cox and Sophia Kiely shared a Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical. Ten-year-old Eleanor Worthington became the youngest winner of the award in any category.[5] At the 2013 Tony Awards, the show won five awards, including the Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical for Dennis Kelly.

A film adaptation was released on 25 November 2022 in the United Kingdom, followed by the United States on 25 December 2022.[6]

Background

In 1988, British children's author Roald Dahl wrote the original novel Matilda, illustrated by Quentin Blake, about a young intelligent girl who develops a love of reading despite her abusive parents and headmistress of her school, incorporating rebellion and magical powers. The novel was adapted into a 1996 American film directed by Danny DeVito as well as an audio reading by Kate Winslet and a BBC Radio 4 programme narrated by Lenny Henry.[citation needed]

In December 2009, the Royal Shakespeare Company announced its intention to stage a musical adaptation with direction by Matthew Warchus and adaptation by Dennis Kelly. Musician and comedian Tim Minchin was chosen to write music and lyrics after Warchus saw his 2009 tour Ready for This? and persuaded during the encore song "White Wine in the Sun". It was also revealed comedian and musician Bill Bailey had been asked to write the songs, however turned the project down due to other works.[7] Coincidentally Minchin revealed that he had originally attempted to gain permission from the Dahl estate to stage a musical adaptation in the early 2000s when writing for a local youth theatre in Perth, Western Australia.[citation needed]

Productions

Stratford-upon-Avon (2010–11)

In 2009, the Royal Shakespeare Company announced its intent to stage a musical adaptation of the story Matilda, engaging Dennis Kelly as playwright, Tim Minchin as the composer and lyricist, Matthew Warchus as director, Chris Nightingale as orchestrator and music supervision, Rob Howell as set designer and Paul Kieve as illusionist and special effects creator.[8] Originally titled Matilda, A Musical, the show opened at the Courtyard Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, England on 9 December 2010, following previews from 9 November.[9] The production was choreographed by Peter Darling. Bertie Carvel played the infamous Miss Trunchbull, with Paul Kaye and Josie Walker as Matilda's parents, Mr and Mrs Wormwood, and Lauren Ward as Matilda's angelic teacher, Miss Honey.[10] Three young actresses, Adrianna Bertola, Josie Griffiths and Kerry Ingram, alternated in the title role.[11][12] The show ended its premiere engagement on 30 January 2011.[1]

London (2011–present)

Since 2011, Matilda the Musical has been playing at the Cambridge Theatre in London's West End.

In 2011, the musical received its West End debut (under the new title of Matilda the Musical) at London's Cambridge Theatre. The show was originally scheduled to begin previews on 18 October 2011, but because of structural and installation work at the theatre, the start of the performances was delayed until 25 October. The opening night was postponed from 22 to 24 November.[13] The musical opened in London to uniformly positive reviews; Kaye and Carvel received high praise for their performances.[14][15] Many of the principal adult cast from the Stratford run reprised their roles in London. Eleanor Worthington Cox, Cleo Demetriou, Sophia Kiely and Kerry Ingram—the only one to reprise her role from Stratford at this time—starred in the title role.

In October 2011, Matilda won Best Musical and Best Actor (Bertie Carvel) in the UK Theatre Awards,[16] and in November 2011 it won the Ned Sherrin Award for Best Musical as part of The Evening Standard Theatre Awards.[17] The production was nominated in all 10 categories for which it was eligible at the 2012 Olivier Awards. The four Matildas performed "Naughty" at the awards show. Matilda won 7 Oliviers: Best New Musical, Best Director (Warchus), Best Actor in a Musical (Carvel), Best Actress in a Musical (accepted by four Matildas), Best Theatre Choreographer (Darling), Best Set Design (Howell) and Best Sound Design (Baker). This was a record number for any show in the event's 36-year history.[3]

On 16 March 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the show suspended performances, returning to the Cambridge Theatre from 16 September 2021.[18] On 12 November 2021, a 10th anniversary performance celebrated 10 years since the show opened in the West End which featured a pre-show speech by Kelly and Minchin with many of the creatives and previous cast in attendance, including 42 previous Matildas.

Broadway (2013–17)

On 29 February 2012, the RSC announced the show would transfer to Broadway in spring 2013;[19] it would still be set in England despite initial pressure for the show to be Americanised. On 19 July 2012, it was announced that the show would open on 11 April 2013 at the Shubert Theatre,[20] with previews commencing on 4 March 2013.[21] Bertie Carvel and Lauren Ward reprised their roles as Miss Trunchbull and Miss Honey.[22][23] Ted Wilson also continued as Eric. A four-girl cast consisting of Sophia Gennusa, Oona Laurence, Bailey Ryon, and Milly Shapiro played the titular role of Matilda.

Matilda the Musical marquee at the Shubert Theatre

The transfer cost US$16 million to produce;[24] it opened as planned on 11 April 2013, with Sophia Gennusa playing the leading role.[25] Small changes were made from the London production; some lyrics were changed to suit American audiences,[26] and more scenes used the orchestra pit/front stalls area of the theatre.[27] The Broadway production also introduced an overture and pre-show curtain, as of June 2013.

The Broadway production closed on 1 January 2017 after 1,555 performances.[28]

US national tour (2015–17)

On 1 June 2013, Tim Minchin announced during an interview that the show was preparing for a US national tour. Minchin said, "We just got it up in New York, there's a touring version that is meant to be going on in America...".[29] Once again produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company and The Dodgers, the tour began technical rehearsals and performances in May 2015 at the Shubert Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut, before its official launch on 7 June at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles, California.[30][31] Announced stops included the SHN Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco, California, the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle, Washington, the AT&T Performing Arts Center in Dallas, Texas, the Kennedy Center Opera House in Washington, D.C., and the Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa, Florida.[32] The cast was announced on 21 April 2015.[33] Three girls would alternate in the lead role: Mia Sinclair Jenness, Gabby Gutierrez, and Mabel Tyler. Gutierrez and Tyler made their tour debuts; Jenness had appeared in the original Broadway cast and 25th anniversary tour of Les Misérables. Other principal cast members included Jennifer Blood as Miss Honey, Bryce Ryness as Miss Trunchbull, and Quinn Mattfeld and Cassie Silva as Mr and Mrs Wormwood.

The national tour of Matilda had its first official performance on 7 June 2015 at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles, California. Mia Sinclair Jenness played the title role. The US national tour took its final bow on 25 June 2017 at the Chapman Music Hall in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Australian and New Zealand tour (2015–17)

Sydney: In July 2013, Minchin said that an Australian production was planned for 2015.[34] The production, produced by Louise Withers,[35] had preview performances from 28 July before opening at the Sydney Lyric theatre on 20 August 2015.[36][37] The ticketing release date (October 2014) was announced at Pier 2/3 in Walsh Bay, with Minchin, International Executive Producer André Ptaszynski, NSW Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner and Sydney press in attendance.[38] The cast included Marika Aubrey and Daniel Frederiksen as Mr and Mrs Wormwood, Elise McCann as Miss Honey and James Millar as Miss Trunchbull.[39] Sasha Rose (12), Georgia Taplin (11), Molly Barwick (10) and Bella Thomas (13) shared the title role with Thomas playing Matilda on the opening night.[40][41][42] The Sydney season ended on Sunday 29 February with Georgia Taplin playing the title role, before transferring to Melbourne.

Melbourne: For the Melbourne season, Dusty Bursill, Alannah Parfett, Tiana Mirra and Ingrid Torelli were announced to rotate playing the title role. On 3 January, Sydney Matilda Bella Thomas was injured and Parfett began her run early in Sydney, covering Thomas until she was better and joining the girls in a rotation until the end of the Sydney run. Mirra and Torelli made their debuts in Sydney's final week on 24 and 27 February respectively. The show opened at Melbourne's Princess Theatre on 13 March and was extended to perform until 11 November 2016. Some of the Sydney child cast members reprised their roles for selected performances in Melbourne; for example, certain performances featured Molly Barwick as Matilda.

Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Auckland: A new season was announced to start in Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, and Auckland. Izellah Connelly, Annabella Cowley, Venice Harris, Eva Murawski rotated the leading role of Matilda. The Matilda tour continued on to Brisbane from 25 November 2016 to 12 February 2017 at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) before moving on to perform at the Crown Theatre in Perth from 28 February until 7 May 2017 and from 21 May to 16 July 2017 at the Adelaide Festival Theatre in South Australia. The show ran in at the Civic Theatre in Auckland until 22 October 2017. Lucy Maunder was initially scheduled to take on the role of Miss Honey from McCann beginning the Brisbane leg.[43] However, due to Maunder's pregnancy, the transition was postponed until 20 March 2017 midway through the Perth leg.[44][45]

Toronto (2016–17)

After the successful launches of Once and the Tony Award-winning Kinky Boots, Mirvish Productions chose to open a Canadian production of Matilda the Musical. The company opened at the Ed Mirvish Theatre beginning in July 2016, closing on 7 January 2017. Hannah Levinson, Jenna Weir, and Jaime MacLean rotated playing the title role. On 8 October 2016, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and family attended a performance.

UK and Ireland tour (2018–19)

On 11 April 2017, a tour was announced to begin at Curve, Leicester from 5–24 March 2018 before touring to Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, Dublin (4–28 April), Sunderland Empire (8 May - 2 June), Milton Keynes Theatre (5–30 June), Birmingham Hippodrome (3 July – 8 September), Manchester Palace Theatre (18 September – 24 November) and Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff (4 December - 12 January 2019). Further venues were announced on 13 March 2018. The tour will go to Theatre Royal, Plymouth (15 January - 16 February 2019), the Alhambra Theatre, Bradford (19 February – 23 March), Edinburgh Playhouse (2–27 April), the Bristol Hippodrome (7 May - 8 June), Southampton Mayflower (11 June – 6 July) and Norwich Theatre Royal (16 July – 17 August).[46][47][48]

On 17 October 2017, the adult cast was announced, to include Craige Els as Miss Trunchbull, Carly Thoms as Miss Honey, Sebastien Torkia as Mr Wormwood and Rebecca Thornhill as Mrs Wormwood.[49] On 16 January 2018, the children's cast was announced, with the role of Matilda being shared between Annalise Bradbury, Lara Cohen, Poppy Jones and Nicola Turner.[50] The tour officially opened as scheduled on 5 March 2018 at the Curve theatre in Leicester, with Poppy Jones in the title role on opening night.

Philippines (2017)

Matilda had its Asian premiere[51] in the Philippines on 10 November 2017. The production closed on 10 December 2017. This production was the first licensed production; it was not produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company, and has no links to the original production except for the score and script. The show featured Esang de Torres, Uma Martin, and Felicity Kyle Napuli alternating the title role, with Esang playing the role on opening night. The Manila production also had a 16-child strong cast alternating 8 other student roles, namely Gabrielle Aerin Ong and Maria Ericka Peralejo as Lavander; Denise Fidel Arteta and Chi Chi Tan as Amanda; Nicole Chien and Ella Gonzalez as Alice; Alba Berenguer-Testa and Chantel Marie Guinid as Hortensia; Josh Nubla and Miguel Suarez as Bruce; Rhythm Alexander and Ian Albert Magallona as Eric; Gabo Tiongson and Pablo Miguel Palacpac as Nigel; and John Joseph Miraflores and Teddy Velasco as Tommy.

Korea (2018–19, 2022–23)

In July 2017, Seensee Company announced they would be producing a production of Matilda the Musical in September 2018. The production will be in arrangement with the RSC and be the first non-English version of Matilda produced.[52] The company includes a cast consisting of four girls, named Li Ji Na, An So Myeong, Hwang Ye Yeong, and Seol Ga Eun that will rotate in the title role of Matilda, as well as a 16-member child cast that will play the roles of Matilda's classmates. The production opened their preview show on 8 September 2018, with An So Myeong in the title role. Li Ji Na and Seol Ga Eun played their first performances on 9 September, and Hwang Ye Yeong had first debut as Matilda on 14 September. A 12 September press call included a performance of Naughty by Hwang Ye Young, Quiet by Seol Ga Eun, a performance of Revolting Children, and more. The production officially closed on 10 February 2019, with Hwang Ye Yeong playing the title role.

In April 2020, Seensee Company announced they will be running another production of Matilda the Musical from October 2022 to January 2023, in Daesung D Cube Art Center.[53] The cast includes four girls playing Matilda (Lim Ha Yun, Jin Yeon Woo, Choi Eun Yeong, Ha Sin Bi), a 16-member child cast, and a 26-member adult cast. The production opened their preview show on 5 October 2022.[54]

International tour (2018–20, 2023)

South Africa: An international tour began at the Teatro At Montecasino in Johannesburg from 17 October to 2 December 2018, before running at the Artscape Opera House in Cape Town from 11 December 2018 to 13 January 2019. The tour cast was announced on 28 August 2018 Lilla Fleischmann, Kitty Harris, and Morgan Santo in the role of Matilda. Other cast members include Ryan de Villers as Miss Trunchbull, Bethany Dickson as Miss Honey, Stephen Jubber and Claire Taylor as Mr and Mrs Wormwood, and Nonpumelelo Mayiyane as Mrs Phelps. Matilda's classmates will be played by Jack Fokkens, Keeran Isaacs, Robyn Ivey, Joshua LeClair, Levi Maron, Ipeleng Merafe, Megan Saayman, Taylor Salgado, Cameron Seear and Zac Gabriel Werb. The rest of the adult ensemble includes Jasmin Colangelo, Katrina Dix, Londiwe Dhlomo-Dlamini, Sinead Donnelly, Michael Gardiner, Kent Jeycocke, Weslee Lauder, Carlo McFarlane, Kenneth Meyer, Daniel Parrott, Adrianna Patlaszynska, Jonathan Raath, and Logan Timbr.[55]

Singapore: Following the South African runs, the international tour began a run at the Sands Theater at Marina Bay Sands. At this time, Sofia Poston joined the show as Matilda. She will rotate along with Fleischmann, Harris, and Santo. Poston had her debut on the tour's opening night in Singapore. The tour will perform there from 21 February to 17 March 2019.

China: Following the Singaporean runs, the international tour ran across 13 cities in China from June 2019 to January 2020.[56]

Philippines: The Manila leg of the international tour at The Theater at Solaire at Solaire Resort & Casino, ran from 5 March and ended early on 13 March 2020 due to the fears of coronavirus in the country, it was supposed to end on 25 March 2020. Zara Yazbek Polito, Sofia Poston, and Zoe Modlinne will rotate in the title role. Haley Flaherty and Hayden Tee will reprise their West End roles as Miss Honey and Miss Trunchbull. The cast also includes Stephen Jubber as Mr Wormwood, Matthew Leck as Bruce Bogtrotter, Claire Taylor as Mrs Wormwood, and Nompumelelo Mayiyane as Mrs Phelps.[57][58]

Israel: In August 2023, the tour reopened at the Tel Aviv Opera House. Originally scheduled to run from 7 August to 22 August, it was then extended to 26 August due to demand. The tour cast was announced on 27 July 2023 with Donna Craig, Myla Williams, and Yolani Balfour in the role of Matilda. Other cast members include Ryan de Villers & James Wolstenholme as Miss Trunchbull, Carly Thoms, Gemma Scholes & Gina Beck as Miss Honey, Matthew Rowland and Emily Squibb as Mr and Mrs Wormwood, and Londiwe Dhlomo-Dlamini as Mrs Phelps.

Japan (2023)

In June 2022, HoriPro announced that a Japanese version of Matilda would be performed at Tokyu Theatre Orb in Tokyo, Japan starting from Spring 2023. The cast includes Sakura Kamura, Minori Kumano, Miran Terada and Nonoka Mikami sharing the role of Matilda as well as Yusuke Onuki, Ryunosuke Onoda and Tatsunari Kimura [ja] alternating as Miss Agatha Trunchbull, Miyu Sakihi and Natsumi Kon alternating as Miss Jennifer Honey, Mario Tashiro and Tsukasa Saito (from Trendy Angel) alternating as Mr Wormwood, Hiromu Kiriya and Chihiro Otsuka alternating as Mrs Wormwood and Mayumi Oka and Yukiko Ikeda alternating as Mrs Phelps.[59][60]

US Regional Productions

In 2018, a small number of major regional theaters produced Matilda. Walnut Street Theatre's production of Matilda was the first regional production after the show closed down on Broadway. Philadelphia's Walnut Street Theatre produced Matilda with performances beginning on 6 November 2018 for a total run of 4 months through 2019. Matilda was played by Jemma Bleu Greenbaum and Ellie Biron.[61]

Synopsis

Act I

Mrs Wormwood gives birth to Matilda, but the new mother is only worried about a ballroom dancing contest she has missed. Similarly shallow, Mr Wormwood—a used-car salesman and television addict—dismisses the child when he realizes she is a girl ("Miracle"). Five years later, Matilda is an avid reader and lives unhappily with her parents. The Wormwoods are oblivious to her genius and frequently mock and verbally abuse her. Matilda adds some of her mother's peroxide to her father's hair oil, leaving Mr Wormwood with bright green hair ("Naughty").

At the library, Matilda spends time with the kind librarian Mrs Phelps and makes up a story about a world-famous acrobat couple who cannot have children ("Once Upon a Time"). Matilda has her first day at school ("School Song"). Her teacher Miss Honey instantly sees that Matilda is exceptionally intelligent and decides to request that Matilda be moved to the top class ("Pathetic"). However, the child-hating and tyrannical headmistress Miss Trunchbull dismisses Miss Honey's suggestion ("The Hammer").

Matilda's father takes out his career frustration on Matilda, so she puts superglue around the rim of his hat ("Naughty" reprise). At school, Matilda is told of Miss Trunchbull's cruel punishments, including the Chokey: a tiny cupboard lined with sharp objects in which she locks disobedient children for hours ("The Chokey Chant"). Miss Honey meets Mrs Wormwood and her dance partner Rudolpho. Mrs Wormwood mocks Matilda's interest in books and intellect ("Loud"). Miss Honey is desperate to help Matilda but feels powerless to do so ("This Little Girl").

Matilda tells Mrs Phelps more about the acrobat couple. When the acrobat gets pregnant, her sister becomes furious about refunding the crowd's money and produces a contract binding them to perform the act or go to jail ("The Great Day Arrived"). At school, Miss Trunchbull attempts to accuse Matilda of eating a chocolate cake she had been saving, but quickly learns that the student who ate the cake was Bruce Bogtrotter. As punishment, she forces him to eat the entire cake as the rest of the students watch him, half of them anticipating that he'll eat the entire cake, while the others are doubtful. Even though Bruce manages to finish the entire cake, Miss Trunchbull still sends him to the Chokey. ("Bruce").

Act II

Mr Wormwood advises the audience against reading in favor of watching television ("Telly"). Matilda's classmates sing about their hopes ("When I Grow Up"). Matilda tells Mrs Phelps more of the story of the acrobat. Bound by their contract, she performs her act but is fatally injured, living just long enough to give birth to a girl. Her husband invites the acrobat's sister to move in and look after his daughter. The girl's aunt is secretly cruel ("The Trick Started Well").

Mr Wormwood is pleased because he tricked his Russian customers ("I'm So Clever"). Matilda scolds him, so he locks her in her bedroom. Matilda continues the story of the acrobat's daughter. The aunt locks her in the cellar, where the father finds her. Filled with rage, he chases the aunt but is never seen again ("I'm Here").

The next day, Miss Trunchbull forces Miss Honey's class to undergo a gruelling physical education lesson ("The Smell of Rebellion"). Miss Trunchbull bullies the children, then verbally abuses Matilda, but Matilda discovers she can move objects with her mind ("Quiet"). Matilda demonstrates her powers to Miss Honey who tells of her own cruel and abusive aunt, who looked after her as a child after her parents died. When Miss Honey first became a teacher, her aunt produced a bill detailing everything Miss Honey consumed as a child, along with other expenses, and forced her to sign a contract binding her to pay it all back. Desperate to escape, Miss Honey found refuge in an old farm shed ("My House"). Matilda recognizes Miss Honey's scarf from the story of the acrobat—which she realizes is the true story of Miss Honey's childhood, and that her wicked aunt is Miss Trunchbull.

Miss Trunchbull schemes to punish Lavender, but her classmates try to intervene. Matilda uses her powers to write on the blackboard, saying it is the ghost of Miss Honey's father ("Chalk Writing"). Miss Trunchbull runs away and the children celebrate ("Revolting Children").

Miss Honey receives her parents' house and money, and she becomes the new headmistress. Matilda cannot use her powers. The Wormwoods try to escape with Matilda to Spain but the Russian mafia arrive. Sergei is impressed by Matilda's intellect, and he lets them go ("This Little Girl" reprise). Matilda is allowed to live with Miss Honey as the Wormwoods leave for Spain ("When I Grow Up" reprise / "Naughty" reprise II).

Musical numbers

§ Not present on the original London cast recording
‡ Not present on the original Broadway cast recording

The instrumentation uses a ten-to-thirteen-piece orchestra, including keyboards, reeds, brass, strings and percussion.[62] The performances run 2 hours and 40 minutes, including one interval.[63][64] The "Overture" was included in the Broadway production while the "Entr'acte" was only used in the London production where it has now been cut apart from the final bars which lead into "When I Grow Up". Note that as of September 2023, the "Overture" has been introduced into the London production.

Recordings

The cast album recorded by the original Stratford company was released on CD in September 2011 and a month later as a Digital Download. It features a hidden spoken track which follows "When I Grow Up" (Reprise). This is the full version of the speech that is heard in part, before, during and after "Quiet" in the show.[65]

A new Original Broadway cast album was released on 22 September 2013 as a CD.[66] This contains more tracks than the UK recording and includes "The Chokey Chant". The deluxe version features Matilda's stories of the Acrobat and the Escapologist, the song "Perhaps a Child" sung by Sergei,[67] which was cut from the show early on in the Stratford previews due to time constraints, but the final lines were included in the Broadway show as "This Little Girl Reprise". The album also included "Naughty" with all four Broadway Matildas singing.[68]

Principal roles and original cast members

Character Stratford
[69][70]
West End
[71][72]
Broadway
[73][74][75][76][77]
US tour
[31][78]
UK tour
[49][50]
2010 2011 2013 2015 2018
Matilda Adrianna Bertola
Josie Griffiths
Kerry Ingram
Cleo Demetriou
Eleanor Worthington Cox
Kerry Ingram
Sophia Kiely
Sophia Gennusa
Oona Laurence
Bailey Ryon
Milly Shapiro
Gabby Gutierrez
Mia Sinclair Jenness
Mabel Tyler
Annalise Bradbury
Lara Cohen
Poppy Jones
Nicola Turner
Miss Trunchbull Bertie Carvel Bryce Ryness Craige Els
Miss Honey Lauren Ward Jennifer Blood Carly Thoms
Mr. Wormwood Paul Kaye Gabriel Ebert Quinn Mattfeld Sebastien Torkia
Mrs. Wormwood Josie Walker Lesli Margherita Cassie Silva Rebecca Thornhill
Mrs. Phelps Melanie La Barrie Karen Aldridge Ora Jones Michelle Chantelle Hopewell
Notable West End replacements
Notable Broadway replacements

Film adaptation

Main article: Matilda the Musical (film)

In June 2013, Minchin said a future film adaptation was being planned. He said during an interview, "We just got [the show] up in New York, there's a touring version that is meant to be going on in America, concurrently the English version is up, there's a film that will probably be made in the next 4 or 5 years and all this sort of stuff."[29] Mara Wilson, who played Matilda in the original 1996 film adaptation of Dahl's novel, said, "Maybe if they made it into a movie, I could have a cameo, but that's for them to decide."[91] Kelly, who wrote the book of the musical, is set to write the film's screenplay, with Minchin writing additional songs and music, and Warchus directing the film.[92]

In April 2020, Ralph Fiennes was rumoured as cast in the role of Miss Trunchbull. The film was originally expected to shoot from August to December 2020 at Shepperton Studios, however, the shooting schedule for the film was interrupted due to lockdown procedures in place for the COVID-19 pandemic.[93]

In January 2021, Lashana Lynch, Emma Thompson and Alisha Weir were confirmed as cast in the roles of Miss Honey, Miss Trunchbull and the titular role respectively, with over 200 children cast as the rest of the student body of Crunchem Hall. Ellen Kane, who worked with choreographer Peter Darling on the stage production, is set to choreograph.[94][95] The film was expected to begin principal photography on 3 May 2021 in Ireland.[96] The film is intended to be produced by Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner through Working Title Films and distributed by Netflix worldwide and Sony Pictures Releasing through its TriStar Pictures banner in the United Kingdom.[97]

In April 2021, it was announced that Stephen Graham, Andrea Riseborough and Sindhu Vee would be joining the cast as Mr Wormwood, Mrs Wormwood and Mrs Phelps respectively.[98] Meesha Garbett as Hortensia, Charlie Hodson-Prior as Bruce, Andrei Shen as Eric, Ashton Robertson as Nigel, Winter Jarrett Glasspool as Amanda and Rei Yamachi Fulker as Lavender make up some of the 200 dancing, singing and acting kids.

The film was theatrically released in the United Kingdom on 25 November 2022, while in other countries was available on Netflix on 25 December.[99]

Critical reception

2010 RSC Stratford production

Michael Billington, writing for The Guardian, gave the musical four stars out of five. He praised the adaptation of the book, the "ebullient music and lyrics", the direction, the stage design and the performances—especially Bertie Carvel as Miss Trunchbull.[100] The Independent also gave the show four out of five stars and said, "The Royal Shakespeare Company has struck gold with this wildly entertaining musical … Kelly's clever adaptation and the witty, intricate songs by ... Minchin create a new, improved version of Dahl's story ... Warchus's wondrously well-drilled production finds just the right balance between gleeful grotesque humour and heart-warming poignancy."[101]

Charles Spencer, writing for The Daily Telegraph awarded the show all five stars and praised the "splendidly witty, instantly hummable songs, dazzling choreography, a cast of impossibly cute and delightful children and a fantastic star turn from Bertie Carvel ... [Kelly's] script has both deepened the emotion of Dahl's story while adding loads of splendid jokes of his own", and concluded, "It is funny, heart-warming, and bang-on target".[102] Matt Wolf of The Arts Desk said: "I was struck by the sight of many a child grinning as openly as their adult companions were wiping away tears".[103] Henry Hitchings of the London Evening Standard also praised the performances, direction and design and commented on Minchin's "witty songs [in which] he switches between styles with remarkable dexterity". He continued, "There's a playfulness throughout [the book] that proves intoxicating ... In this lovingly created show, Matilda's magic positively sparkles. There's a cleverness in the writing which ensures that, while it appeals to children, there is plenty for adults to savour ... it's blissfully funny."[104]

In September 2019, The Guardian writers listed the RSC performance of Matilda as the seventh best theatre show since 2000.[105]

Original London production

The reviews of the London performances were also extremely positive.[106] Julie Carpenter of the Daily Express awarded the show all five stars and called the musical "[g]loriously over the top", and said, "it's an irresistible and ingenious mix of fun, fizz, cruelty, incredible choreography and above all warmth which means we root for the kids from the start. Fantastic."[107] Henry Hitchings' review in the Evening Standard ranked the piece five stars, praising the music and lyrics, book, set design, choreography, direction and performances.[108] The review in The Guardian said, "You'd be a nitwit to miss this hit show."[109] The Stage also gave Matilda five stars,[110] as did Spencer, writing again for The Telegraph. Confirming his impression of the 2010 production, he wrote about the West End transfer:

"I suspect it will delight audiences for years to come ... [Kelly's] script actually improves and deepens Dahl's original ... [Minchin's] smashing score ... combines take-home melodies with delicious lyrical wit in songs that consistently develop both the plot and our understanding of the characters. There is an exuberant sense here of two writers who have clicked together ... [Matilda] so wittily excoriates the cruelty and crassness of our age ... Warchus's thrilling, warm-hearted production, exuberantly designed by Rob Howell and with pin-sharp choreography by Peter Darling, constantly combines comedy with a sense of wonder. The children [and the adult performances are 'hilarious' (Bailey), 'memorable' (Walker and Kaye) and 'touchingly sweet' (Ward)] ... But the star turn is Bertie Carvel".[111]

The Financial Times, The Times and The Sunday Times each awarded the show four stars out of five, but found little to criticise.[106] Ben Brantley, writing for The New York Times, called the adaptation "a sweet and sharp-witted work of translation, which ... turns dark and sodden anxieties into bright and buoyant fantasies [that address] a raging thirst these days for [such] tonics".[112] A year after the show opened, Time Out gave the production four stars out of five, noting the departure of Carvel and calling the show "a little too long and, dramatically, a tad wayward", but nevertheless "wise, wicked, glorious fun."[113]

Original Broadway production

Most of the New York critics gave the Broadway transfer their highest marks. Brantley wrote: "Matilda works with astonishing slyness and grace to inculcate us with its radical point of view. [It] is about words and language, books and stories, and their incalculable worth as weapons of defense, attack and survival ... Above all it's an exhilarating tale of empowerment". He also said the child actors "strengthen their diction" so that the "tasty lyrics" could be clearly heard.[114] Richard Zoglin, in Time magazine said that the show is "a fresh start for the Broadway musical" with "a score that seems all but woven into the scenery—simple but distinctive tunes ... intricate lyrics ... Every element of the show seems hand-crafted and right". He said that director Warchus "lets the characters go gloriously over the top (the way children see them), but also brings a hushed intensity". He also said that the second act "runs a bit too long" and that "the combination of shrill child voices, British accents and heavy miking causes many of the lyrics to get muddled".[115] Elisabeth Vincentelli's review in the New York Post said, "Once in a blue moon, a show comes out blazing and restores your faith in Broadway. Matilda The Musical is that show."[116] David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter said the stage show captured "the unique flavor of Roald Dahl's classic 1988 children's novel", and added, "this funhouse fairy tale is by turns riotous and poignant, grotesque and menacing, its campy comic exaggeration equaled only by its transporting emotional power".[117]

David Cote, in Time Out New York, wondered whether the show was too English for Broadway tastes; he wrote, "Matilda is a kids' musical, not a musical that happens to be about a kid. As such, its attractions may be limited to younger spectators and die-hard Dahl fans. That would be a pity, since Matilda is wickedly smart and wildly fun".[118] A review in USA Today said the show tries too hard to be clever, but it is affecting and enchanting.[119] Of the British papers reviewing the transfer, The Telegraph gave the show four stars out of five, and said, "There's a harder-edged quality to the New York staging: the general tenor is louder and more exaggerated, and the Gilbertian finesse of [the] astonishing lyrics didn't translate for my companion ... But the tremendous heart and intelligence of the piece remains undimmed."[120] A review by Brendan Lemon in the Financial Times also gave the piece four stars out of five.[121]

Awards and nominations

London production

Year Award Ceremony Category Nominee Result Ref
2011 Critics' Circle Theatre Awards Best Musical Won [122]
UK Theatre Awards Best Musical Won [123]
Best Performance Bertie Carvel Won
Evening Standard Theatre Awards Best Musical Won [124]
Best Actor Bertie Carvel Nominated
Best Director Matthew Warchus Nominated
British Composer Awards Best Stage Work Tim Minchin Nominated [125][126]
2012 Laurence Olivier Awards Best New Musical Won [127][128]
Best Actor in a Musical Bertie Carvel Won
Best Actress in a Musical Cleo Demetriou
Kerry Ingram
Eleanor Worthington Cox
Sophia Kiely
Won
Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical Paul Kaye Nominated
Best Director Matthew Warchus Won
Best Theatre Choreographer Peter Darling Won
Best Set Design Rob Howell Won
Best Costume Design Nominated
Best Lighting Design Hugh Vanstone Nominated
Best Sound Design Simon Baker Won

Broadway production

Year Award Ceremony Category Nominee Result Ref
2013 Tony Award Best Musical Nominated [129][130]
Best Book of a Musical Dennis Kelly Won
Best Original Score Tim Minchin Nominated
Best Actor in a Musical Bertie Carvel Nominated
Best Featured Actor in a Musical Gabriel Ebert Won
Best Featured Actress in a Musical Lauren Ward Nominated
Best Direction of a Musical Matthew Warchus Nominated
Best Choreography Peter Darling Nominated
Best Orchestrations Christopher Nightingale Nominated
Best Scenic Design of a Musical Rob Howell Won
Best Costume Design of a Musical Nominated
Best Lighting Design of a Musical Hugh Vanstone Won
Tony Honors for Excellence in Theatre Sophia Gennusa
Oona Laurence
Bailey Ryon
Milly Shapiro
Won[131]
Drama League Awards Outstanding Production of a Broadway or off-Broadway Musical Nominated [132]
Distinguished Performance Award Bertie Carvel Nominated
Outer Critics Circle Awards Outstanding New Broadway Musical Nominated [133]
Outstanding Book of a Musical (Broadway or Off-Broadway) Won
Outstanding Choreographer Peter Darling Nominated
Outstanding Set Design (Play or Musical) Rob Howell Won
Outstanding Actor in a Musical Bertie Carvel Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Musical Won [134]
Outstanding Book of a Musical Dennis Kelly Won
Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical Bertie Carvel Won
Outstanding Director of a Musical Matthew Warchus Nominated
Outstanding Choreography Peter Darling Nominated
Outstanding Lyrics Tim Minchin Won
Outstanding Set Design Rob Howell Won
New York Drama Critics' Circle Best Musical Won[135] [135]
Theatre World Award Bertie Carvel Won[136] [136]
2014 Grammy Award Best Musical Theater Album Nominated

Australian production

Year Award Ceremony Category Nominee Result Ref
2015 Sydney Theatre Awards Best production of a mainstream musical Won [137]
Best performance by an actress in a supporting role in a musical Elise McCann Won
Best performance by an actress in a supporting role in a musical Marika Aubrey Nominated
Best performance by an actor in a supporting role in a musical James Millar Won
Best performance by an actor in a supporting role in a musical Daniel Frederiksen Nominated
Special achievement award Molly Barwick
Sasha Rose
Georgia Taplin
Bella Thomas
Won
2016 Helpmann Awards Best Musical Won [138]
Best Original Score Tim Minchin Won
Best Direction of a Musical Matthew Warchus Won
Best Female Actor in a Musical Molly Barwick
Dusty Bursill
Tiana Mirra
Alannah Parfett
Sasha Rose
Georgia Taplin
Bella Thomas
Ingrid Torelli
Won
Best Male Actor in a Musical James Millar Won
Best Choreography in a Musical Peter Darling Won
Best Music Direction Stephen Amos Won
Best Sound Design Simon Baker Won
Best Scenic Design Rob Howell Won
Best Costume Design Won
Best Lighting Design Hugh Vanstone Won
Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical Daniel Frederiksen Won
Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical Elise McCann Won
Green Room Awards Outstanding Music Theatre Award for Production Won [139]
Music Theatre Award for Direction Matthew Warchus Won
Betty Pounder Award for Excellence in Choreography Peter Darling Won
Music Theatre Award for Musical Direction/Supervision Stephen Amos Won
Music Theatre Award for Sound Design Simon Baker Won
Music Theatre Award for Costume Design Rob Howell Won
Music Theatre Award for Set Design Won
Music Theatre Award for Lighting Design Hugh Vanstone Won
Music Theatre Award for Male in a Supporting Role Daniel Frederiksen Nominated
Music Theatre Award for Female in a Supporting Role Elise McCann Nominated
Music Theatre Award for Male Lead James Millar Nominated
Music Theatre Award for Female Lead Dusty Bursill
Tiana Mirra
Alannah Parfett
Ingrid Torelli
Nominated
2017 Helpmann Awards Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical Lucy Maunder Nominated [140]

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Further reading