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BWW Review: MATILDA National Tour at Durham Performing Arts Center


Based on the 1988 Roald Dahl novel of the same name, Matilda tells the story of a precocious 5-year-old girl who overcomes obstacles caused by her family and school, while also helping her teacher reclaim her life.

After having its world premiere at Stratford-upon-Avon staged by the Royal Shakespeare Company in November 2010, the musical debuted in London's West End on November 24th, 2011. It went on to win a record-breaking 7 Laurence Olivier Awards (including Best New Musical). It then transferred to Broadway on April 11th, 2013, where it would earn 12 Tony Award nominations (including Best Musical).

As someone who read the original novel a few years ago, I think Tony-Winning playwright Dennis Kelly wrote such a brilliant adaptation aided with a terrific score by Tim Minchin. Though parents should be aware that for a family-oriented show, the tone is more along the lines of Oliver! than Annie. Though Kelly still manages to find the humor in the show's most darkest moments.

Under the direction of Matthew Warchus, there is some genius staging to behold along with Peter Darling's skillful choreography! Lighting designer Hugh Vanstone along with set and costume designer Rob Howell create a world dark, yet colorful world that fills out the entire stage at DPAC.

Three little girls share the title role. At the performance I saw, 9-year-old Sarah McKinley Austin delivers a strong and confident performance proving at such a young age, she is perfectly capable of carrying a show on her back. Her fellow cast mates include some standouts. David Abeles (in drag) delivers as the terrifying headmistress Miss Trunchbull; Jennifer Blood is extremely heartfelt as Matilda's school teacher Miss Honey; and Quinn Mattfeld & Cassie Silva both bring in some zany fun as Mr. & Mrs. Wormwood respectively. Even the other kids in the cast are so adorable.

This show literally has everything! With humor, emotion, wonder, imagination, heart, and a great message, audiences of all ages should feel captivated from beginning to end! This national touring production is currently playing at Durham Performing Arts Center through January 24th.

For more information regarding the tour, please visit:

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From This Author Jeffrey Kare