Matilda The Musical - Justsaying.ASIA

Matilda The Musical Review: The Sweet Smell of Rebellion

Based on Roald Dahl's novel, Matilda the Musical makes its Asian debut in Singapore with a performance worthy of miracles, supported by immense front and backstage talent.

Set Design
Reader Rating3 Votes
School's Out
Timing and execution like clockwork
Immensely talented cast
Wonderful adaptation from text to musical
School's Out
Some characters may be underwhelming compared to how they are in the book (Mrs. Phelps)
Actress for Matilda heavily influences the experience of the play

Once upon an era, a man by the name of Roald Dahl crafted what mankind would come to know as one of the greatest children’s novels made to be read and enjoyed by ages old and young. The tale of Matilda is an anarchic classic for the ages with layers of simplistic but very intricate storytelling that it’s no surprise that the Royal Shakespeare Company’s stage musical adaptation is such an uproarious Broadway and West End success. The musical is owner to over 85 international awards, including seven Olivier Awards right after its debut run from November 2010 to January 2011.

A cover of Roald Dahl's novel, Matilda.
A cover of Roald Dahl’s novel, Matilda.

Back To School

The production follows a brilliant 5-year-old bookworm with whimsical TV-obsessed parents who pay her no heed, much rather hoping for a male child instead. The brains and wit of tiny Matilda don’t hold a key to the opposition of the evil Headteacher at her new school, Miss Trunchbull, who is a towering Olympic Hammer-throwing champion.

Ms Trunchbull and Ms Honey
Ms. Trunchbull and Ms. Honey (Source: BASE Entertainment)

The young mind dances with the challenges of individuality, belonging, and love as she is exposed to injustices that extend beyond her home and herself. Through her journey, she is supported and egged on by librarian Mrs. Phelps and her teacher, Ms. Honey.

My Mommy Says I’m A Miracle!

In its stunning Asian debut, Matilda The Musical is performed at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, led by Sofia Poston (on premiere night), one of the four actresses who play Matilda in the performance. The stage musical proves to be universally astounding, showing no sign of a performance being executed on a foreign stage. It’s a product of remarkable translation from book to musical, and immense talent gracing both front and backstage.

Sofia Preston, one of the four actresses set to play Matilda in Singapore.
Sofia Preston, one of the four actresses set to play Matilda in Singapore (Source: BASE Entertainment)

Matilda The Musical is scripted and choreographed powerfully, leaving little to the imagination and capturing the whimsicality of Roald Dahl’s storytelling to absolute perfection, yet bursting with intense realism and relatability. Not a word uttered, nor a movement made is wasted in the adaptation. The set is designed with brilliant functionality, effectively setting the tone for musical numbers and storytelling alike. Although it appears somewhat simplistic (though beautiful) at the beginning, it is used very well.

The cast of Matilda The Musical performing “When I Grow Up.” (Source: BASE Entertainment)

The blocking of characters and scene transitions are executed seamlessly, and there’s nothing that distracts from the immersion of storytelling for a very moment. The crew and cast ignore the human limitations of physical movement in theatre, almost as if functioning on programming. It’s the type of performance that makes you feel lucky to be in the audience, watching practice-perfect professionals who’ve become so good at what they do.

You Have a Worm, Matilda

The musical is fronted by a cast that is very apt and talented, ensuring characters don’t outshine one another where not meant to, though this is also owed to Matilda being the only main character per se. Paired with great writing, most of the characters are likable in their own aspects, save for Matilda’s brother Michael who mainly just lurks, appropriately so. The performances of Stephen Jubber and Claire Taylor as Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood (respectively) are especially applaudable and charismatic. It’s worth mentioning that the cast is made of mostly insane resumes, with Broadway hits like Singing In The Rain, Grease, Sound of Music and Jesus Christ Superstar (to name a few) decked in the lists.

Stephen Jubber and Claire Taylor as Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood
Stephen Jubber and Claire Taylor as Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood (Source: BASE Entertainment)

Sofia Poston as Matilda is remarkable and gripping, and draws parallels beautifully to Ms. Trunchbull, who is played by a male (Ryan De Villiers) for dominance and masculinity of the character (who’s up against Matilda) to be conveyed more effectively. On one hand, there’s nothing more adorable than hearing the 9-year-old actress repeatedly say the mouthful of a word that is “escapologist,” but on the other, she effectively establishes the feisty resolve that the character has from the get-go.

There’s some amazing music in the production that create and encapsulate character moments with gusto. The choreography for the music is inconceivably impressive, with light but wonderful acrobatics and some jaw-dropping moments created by the incorporation of props. This is especially so during  “School Song” where the use of props is absolutely astounding, supported by the impeccable timing and energy of the cast.

Sometimes You Have To Be a Little Bit Naughty

I could go on and on about how Matilda The Musical is a true theatric feat, but I’ll leave some of the magic for you to experience yourself. In every sense of the word, it is magic. And that’s a guarantee no matter who you are, and what floats your boat. If there’s one production that will appeal to just about anyone, young, old, pessimistic or cheery, it is this. Every aspect of this play is top-notch, and the story of the young, clever, rebellious, tiny Matilda will capture your heart without a doubt. Just don’t expect a page-for-page book adaptation.

Ms. Trunchbull in her office.
Ms. Trunchbull in her office (Source: BASE Entertainment)

Matilda The Musical brings out the fragile beauty in the most universal themes and will speak differently to you every time that you watch it. It is an unforgettable journey, and it’ll be a splurge well spent. Not to mention, this particular combination of cast and crew is golden. Roald Dahl would be proud.

Matilda The Musical is in Singapore till 17th March 2019. Tickets start at $68 and can be purchased at Sistic, or at Marina Bay Box Offices. Bring a paper airplane to fly to the cast during the curtain call, especially if you’re seated near the front.

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