Review: MATILDA THE MUSICAL by Act Three Productions

12-27 April at the Regent Theatre, Palmerston North

By: Apr. 13, 2024
Review: MATILDA THE MUSICAL by Act Three Productions
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A musical delight that is sure to be enjoyed by the entire family

Matilda was first a published children's story by Roald Dahl released in 1988. It was then made into a movie which came out in 1996 (which I absolutely loved)  Recently it was given the Tim Minchen treatment and turned into a musical debuting in 2010, with Tim's music and book by Dennis Kelly.

It's the story of a young girl with the gift of telekinesis, who loves reading, who has an unsupportive family and ends up at a school run by the terrible Miss Trunchbull. She has to overcome all the odds to, with the help of the schools teacher Miss Honey and the town librarian Mrs Phelps, triumph in the face of adversity.

This show hinges on the main character and in Sylvie Musso as Matilda we were in capable hands. Opening night for us all is a big deal, but for a child actor must be particularly daunting. Matilda and her worms and maggots shone brightly last night.

Phil Anstis as Miss Trenchbull was a tour de force with an imposing figure and wonderful put-downs. Some of the comical cruelty is quite confronting in this day and age but it is handled well. At the beginning of the second act where we are told to not try this at home.

There were a few technical issues on opening night with some inexact lighting and some sound problems but that did not diminish a fabulous nights' entertainment. 

The set is a delight, colourful and bright yet fully functional. Scene transitions were relatively seamless. Costuming was also of a high standard.

Danica Manson, for me, was the highlight of the production with a wonderful voice and some excellent acting. I also enjoyed Sophia Parker as the Librarian who marveled at Matilda's storytelling.

Matilda's mum and dad were played by Jessie Feyen and Jacob McDonald. Both excelled in their roles as the uncaring and self-interested parents. Jacob did struggle slightly with the vocals when singing but more than made up for it with his characterization.

There were some memorable scenes along the way - the arrival for the first day at school, the pigtail throw and the gym scene which almost brought the house down.

I felt there was a missed opportunity when one of the students is made to eat an entire chocolate cake. It was only seen from behind and the magnitude of the task was almost lost. If done differently it would have been in that memorable scenes category.

This was a fun-filled and laughter-inducing show that is sure to please the audiences that attend. In the end, that's really all you can ask for. 

Entertaining and well executed. Highly recommended.


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