West End's MATILDA Celebrates Fifth Birthday
Last week, Matilda the Musical - that soaring celebration of storytelling - marked its fifth year in the West End. Appropriately enough, the show begins with a birthday party in the marvellously caustic "Miracle" (over 41,000 balloons have been used since the show opened at the Cambridge Theatre), and the audience was invited to join the party, treated to birthday cupcakes in the interval. No word on whether Bruce Bogtrotter made a play for them first...
Five years and more than 2,000 London performances on, Tim Minchin and Dennis Kelly's Matilda - brilliantly nurtured by the RSC - is still dynamic family fun, channelling Roald Dahl's anarchic spirit and finding a clever theatrical form for his protagonist's passion for books. Here, the pleasure Matilda takes in reading becomes a universal joy in telling, hearing and creating tales, and using the gifts imparted - creativity, an inquiring mind, empathy and moral courage - to change the world. It's storytelling as all-conquering superpower.
Zaris-Angel Hator (currently alternating with Sara Sheen, Abbie Vena and Clara Read) played Matilda on the fifth anniversary performance with impressively cool self-possession. But this is very much an ensemble piece, child and adult performers alike brilliantly marshalled by director Matthew Warchus and choreographer Peter Darling - the latter's vigorous movement still startlingly fresh and steering well clear of cute. There's real Dahl darkness here, and some eerie resonance; it's hard not to think of the current political landscape while watching an intelligent, well-read girl battling mercenary, vain, post-truth bullies.
Long may Matilda reign: like its heroine, principled, thoughtful, dazzlingly imaginative, and not afraid to be a little bit naughty.
Matilda the Musical is currently booking until 15 October, 2017
See production photographs featuring the current cast below by Manuel Harlan
Miria Parvin and Craig Els