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Review: Lyric Theatre's Summer Series returns with MATILDA: THE MUSICAL

Matilda the Musical is a fun, family-friendly story about an extraordinary young girl.

Review: Lyric Theatre's Summer Series returns with MATILDA: THE MUSICAL
photo by Miki Galloway

**This review is dedicated to the late, great Larry Laneer. Laneer was a pioneer of arts journalism in Oklahoma City. He was authentic and honest to a fault, and never once backed down on his stance. He was known for writing brutally honest reviews that criticized everything, from the most dazzling Broadway tours to the smallest community plays. It was something of a badge of honor to be ripped in a review by Laneer, and the level of attention his commentary received is something every journalist can only dream to achieve. Here's to you, Larry, a colleague and competitor who I always respected from a safe distance. I hope you're enjoying a stage somewhere; smiling, laughing, and pretending to hate it all the while.**

Lyric Theatre finally returns to the Civic Center! Summer 2019 was the last time Lyric was able to present their epic summer series, and when Titanic went down, so did the performing arts industry. COVID shut down live performance and kept professional theatres outdoors for the entirety of 2020 and 2021. Finally, Finally!! Lyric is back in the theatrical event of the season. They kick off the 2022 Summer at the Civic series with Roald Dahl's Matilda: The Musical.

Matilda is a special young girl. She's gifted, intelligent, and kind. Sadly, she has parents who don't see her worth and don't care about her at all. She seeks solace in imagination, and is fortunate enough to have a teacher in her life who cares for her. Roald Dahl's beloved children's novel was adapted for the stage by Dennis Kelly and features original tunes by Tim Minchin. Lyric's production sparkles on the Civic Center stage with direction by Ashley Wells and choreography by Amy Reynolds-Reed.

The title role is double cast, with Cassie Magrath portraying Matilda on opening night. Magrath is energetic and cheerful as Matilda, and has professional-level talent. She's matched with equally impressive cast mates. Shawntel Black is charming and confident as Lavender. Miller Dick is a star as Bruce. The children's ensemble dances and sings with enthusiasm, and includes Westley Ferguson, Dylan Howard, Hallie Hunt, Rhett Hurst, Samantha Rother, and Kamilla Quiambao. The adults are pretty good, too.

Not to be outdone, Matthew Alvin Brown thoroughly enjoys himself as the evil Miss Trunchbull. He gets the audience excited and keeps them laughing all night. Cristela Carrizales is warm and loving as Mrs. Phelps. Logan Corley steps in last minute and makes a solid showing as Mr. Wormwood. Maggie Spicer Brown is hilarious and saucy as the dancing-queen-in-training Mrs. Wormwood. Sheridan McMichael is fabulous and flexible as Rudolpho, Mrs. Wormwood's flashy dance instructor. Olivia Yokers is the saving grace as Miss Honey. Her love for Matilda helps the neglected child flourish, and when Miss Honey herself needs help, Matilda is there for her. Their relationship is beautiful and shines through the silly comedic nature of the show.

The Thelma Gaylord stage at the Civic Center is almost too big for this show. Matilda has a large cast, but many of them are small child actors. Nobody seems intimidated, and they rely smartly on their mics and sound design. Live musicians are a welcome return, but at times drown out the young performers. Magrath charges through every mic issue but verges on shouting, a result she really can't help given the space and need to project to such a big audience. Every opening night has sound issues, and if that's the biggest problem Lyric faces, they're in for a solid run.

Matilda is a fun musical with catchy tunes and memorable characters. It's everything we've missed out of live theatre, with a bit of magic thrown in. Families will enjoy this show, but must hurry for tickets because it'll sell out, and only runs through the 26th. Hurry to grab them, lest you be sent to The Chokey!

Matilda: The Musical runs at the Civic Center through June 26th. Tickets are available at lyrictheatreokc.com.


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