BWW Review: MATILDA THE MUSICAL Sets the Bar High for Vancouver's Summer Musicals
Growing up, Matilda was both a book and movie that was well-loved in many households. The peculiarity of the Wormwood household, the magic of Matilda's powers, and the bone-shaking wrath of Miss Trunchbull was felt by readers and audiences near and far. This month, Arts Club brought Roald Dahl's classic tale to life with its production of Matilda the Musical. Playing at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage in Vancouver from May 16th to July 14th, Arts Club does not disappoint with this truly remarkable show.
Directed by Daryl Cloran, Matilda the Musical sets the bar high for the slew of musicals about to hit the scene in Vancouver this summer. Ranging from its intricate set to the brightening illusions doubled with the immense talent from the cast, this show was by far the most impressive show I've seen from Arts Club.
The matinee show that I attended on May 25th was a full house comprised of both children and adults ready to experience the magic of Matilda. As the show began, the banner was lifted to reveal a set of elongated bookshelves stretching around the perimeter of the stage. If I had to count, I'd say about 500 perfectly placed books were placed in each bookshelf. The sets designed by Cory Sincennes were filled will many hidden gems that took the audience by surprise throughout the show. The bookcases would occasionally open up to reveal beds, bathrooms, or doors. With the addition of drop down set pieces, rolling desks, and a rotating stage (similar to the one they use in the musical Hamilton) the production's changing sets emphasized the dynamic range of the show. The special touches to the sets really impressed me and added a little spark to the musical.
The lighting design by Gerald King and sound design by Brad Danyluk perfectly matched the production. Moments of high tension or emotion were often paired with bright coloured lighting or special techniques such as strobe lighting. For further enhancement, a well-balanced use of sound was prevalent throughout the production. Unlike past shows where the balance between the actor's vocals and background instrumentals were not aligned properly, this show hit it right.
Not every part in this movie was covered; however, the show featured the main driving points of the plot used to properly tell Matilda's story. Well-loved moments from the book/movie such as the cake scene and Miss Trenchbull's pigtail throw were high points of the musical. The way these points and many other scenes of the show were orchestrated left me completely overwhelmed with positive emotion.
The cast of Matilda the Musical gave a truly outstanding performance. Thailey Roberge was Matilda for the performance that I attended and she was the perfect fit for the role. Her sweet voice lent itself perfectly to songs such as "Naughty" and "Quiet." Roberge did an excellent job of capturing the inquisitive nature of Matilda. John Ullyatt as Miss Trunchbull had everyone both shaking with laugher and cowering with fear. Ullyatt's wit combined with his menacing tone was the perfect combination of traits for his character. Furthermore, Alison MacDonald played the role of Miss Honey and shone bright on stage with her phenomenal voice. During her featured song called "This Little Girl," MacDonald sung with absolute excellence and brilliance.
Right from the beginning, Justin Stadnyk who was the Doctor/ensemble member stood out for me. During the song "Miracle" Stadnyk stands out with his incredible voice hitting every note perfectly. Near the end of the production, Angelo Cornel gave another outstanding performance during the song "Revolting Children." His stage presence during this song and throughout the show was awe-inspiring.
MATILDA THE MUSICAL was a very impressive show. Packed with high caliber staging, lighting, and visual effects coupled with unbelievable acting and singing, this show is a force to be reckoned with. Matilda the Musical is currently playing at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage in Vancouver from May 16th to July 14th. Tickets start at $39 and are available at https://secure.artsclub.com/events/detail/matilda or by calling the box office at 604-687-1644.
Photo Credit: David Cooper, 2019