Theatre review: Matilda the Musical and backstage access

Growing up I was a bookworm, I still am in fact (as if you would expect anything less from someone who started out as a book blogger). My favourite book as a child and still a firm favourite as an adult was Matilda. So imagine my delight and excitement at being invited along to the Hippodrome in Birmingham not only to watch the musical but to also go…

Backstage

Whilst others may have been fascinated by the equipment I was amazed by the scrabble pieces. Yes, you read right. The stage comprises of giant scrabble tiles and if you look close enough you will find a total of 150 words hidden amongst the set.

I loved walking around the set and taking in every little detail. Also the fact that we were able to go and see some of the quick change costumes really added to the experience.

On the day I discovered some wonderful facts about Matilda the Musical

  • At 4ft 4in tall, Matilda Wormwood is the smallest leading lady in a musical.
  • Matilda and Miss Hiney enjoy a real cup of tea and a biscuit during the my house scene.
  • The production gets through over 100 tubs of chocolate spread each year.
  • There are 3,780 paper aeroplanes flown into the auditorium each year. Each one is, in fact, a written school report.
  • Winner of over 85 major awards (including 15 for Best Musical)

I also discovered that there are four young actresses aged 10-11 who portray Matilda and they take it in turns to play the role. They are Annalise Bradbury, Lara Cohen, Poppy Jones and Nicola Turner. I love the fact that the company travels with it’s own tutors and chaperones, making sure that the children are schooled before weekday performances.

After being shown around backstage we were lucky enough to also be privy to the warm-up. Led by adult cast and dance captain Sam Lathwood. The warm up was a series of energetic dance moves and stretches.

Matilda the Musical

I must admit that as much as I was excited to see my favourite book brought to life on stage I was worried that it wouldn’t live up to expectations.Thankfully the show written for the stage by Dennis Kelly with lyrics and music by Tim Minchin turned out to be everything and more.

Packed full of hilarity, I found myself laughing along as Mrs Wormwood discovered she was pregnant and the wonderful lyrics from Tim Minchin filled the theatre.

” I should be dancing the tarantella –

…Not dressed in hospital cotton,

With a smarting front bottom.”

Little did I know that this would be the first of many funny lines within the story.

However, whilst the show offers humour aplenty there are also some touching and thought provoking moments, like when Matilda declares

“My mum says I’m a good excuse for population control; Dad says I should shut my cakehole”.

When it comes to the casting, the team really pulled it out of the bag. Miss Honey played by Carly Thoms portrays the sweet and innocent teacher with complete grace and compassion.

Let’s not forget the character we all love to hate, Miss Trunchball! Performed by Craig Els, the rather sadistic headmistress is comedy gold not just because of her drag like appearance but also the one-liners that roll off the tongue,

Her stage presence is at times terrifying especially when she swings Alice round by her pigtails.

I can’t recommend this musical enough. Fans of the book will be delighted and enthralled to see their favourite bookworm on stage. True to the book but with a few added extras, this really is one of the best musicals I have ever seen.

Matilda The Musical is on at Birmingham Hippodrome till September 8th.

To book your tickets visit Birmingham Hippodrome

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