Reading/Interest Level: Intermediate, Young Adult
Author: Dennis Kelly, Tim MInchin
Publisher: Music Theatre International
Acts or Scenes: 2 Acts
Estimated Runtime: 2 hours 30 minutes
Number of Characters: 21
Cast Requirements: 6 female, 7 male, 8 either
Time Period: present day
Production Requirements: Multiple scenic locations, stylized costuming, sound and special effect requirements.
Roald Dahl’s classic about a remarkably intelligent young girl jumps to life in this musical. Unappreciated by her obnoxious, money-grabbing parents, Matilda rises above her circumstances using her super brain power and innate sense of right and wrong. The fun really starts when she begins attending a horrible school where her intelligence astounds her teacher, Miss Honey, one of the few adults that has ever appreciated her. When she finds that Miss Honey has also been wronged by the evil headmistress Miss Trunchbull, she decides to get even. With the help of her friends, Matilda uses the supernatural powers she has discovered she possesses to route Miss Trunchbull from the school and give her beloved Miss Honey what rightfully belongs to her, finding a happy ending for herself along the way.
The musical uses the same characters and much of the same plot points as the original work, with some story additions and tweaks. A new, “circus” subplot is included, perhaps to heighten tension, as well as a swap in of the Russian Mafia to take the place of the original FBI characters. The plot is a bit unwieldy with a few illogical leaps, probably due to the story additions. Well-known characters like Matilda, her parents (the Wormwoods), and the teachers are fleshed out beautifully, with Matilda and Miss Honey especially drawing lots of audience sympathy. The Wormwoods are delightfully easy to hate. The scenes involving revolutionary students at the school are exciting and cheer-worthy. Clever, funny lyrics by Tim Minchin create strong characters and draw the audience instantly in with the accompanying, toe-tapping score and potential for high-energy dance numbers.