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"Matilda" The Musical at the Sam S. Shubert Theatre
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"Matilda" The Musical at the Sam S. Shubert Theatre

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The Royal Shakespeare Company and the Dodgers
Roald Dahl’s
Matilda The Musical
(Matilda The Musical Website)

Book by Dennis Kelly
Music and Lyrics by Tim Minchin

Starring Today as Matilda: Milly Shapiro
(In Rotation with: Sophia Gennusa, Oona Laurence, Bailey Ryon)

Also Starring:
Bertie Carvel as Miss Trunchbull
Gabriel Ebert as Mr. Wormwood
Lesli Margherita as Mrs. Wormwood
Lauren Ward as Miss Honey
Karen Aldridge as Mrs. Phelps

And an Expansive Ensemble of Actors/Singers/Dancers

Director: Matthew Warchus
Choreographer: Peter Darling
Orchestrations & Additional Music: Chris Nightingale

Sam S. Shubert Theatre
A Shubert Organization Theatre
225 West 44th Street

Set and Costume Design: Rob Howell
Lighting Design: High Vanstone
Sound Design: Simon Baker
Casting: Jim Carnahan CSA
Nora Brennan CSA
Dramaturg: Jeanie O’Hare
Voice Director: Andrew Wade
Musical Director: David Holcenberg
Music Coordinator: Howard Joines
Production Stage Manager: Kelly A. Martindale
Company Manager: Kimberly Kelley
Advertising/Marketing AKA
Press: Boneau/Bryan-Brown
Production Management: Aurora Productions
Executive Producer: Denise Wood
Executive Produce: André Ptazynski
General Manager: Dodger Management Group
Illusion: Paul Kieve

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 13, 2013 Matinee

To watch my nine year-old niece’s gaze in awe, during today’s matinee of Matilda, told it all. This show is mesmerizing and magnetic, even for adults and teens, all of whom were wildly applauding and, at the curtain, whooping, for their favorite characters in this often dark, often hilarious, often adorable, often surreal musical, based on a renowned book by Roald Dahl, and a later movie. Four young actresses, singers, athletes, Milly Shapiro (today’s lead), Sophia Gennusa, Bailey Ryon, and Oona Laurence, take turns starring in this physically and cognitively challenging show. But the character that sears the imagination and stays with you long after you walk out of the Shubert’s doors, is Miss Trunchbull (Bertie Carvel), Matilda’s school headmistress, who’s plumped up with pillows and facial marks, has a too short, too tight dress, a tiny gray ponytail, and twitches with malicious delight at the chance to mentally torture a kid. Trunchbull holds a twisted wrist and pinky finger, twirls her matted hair, and bares the ugliest teeth around. She keeps a torture dungeon in the school and punishes one adorably mischievous boy, forcing him to non-stop eat a giant chocolate cake. All the while, the chorus of actual children, and an ensemble of actors in kids’ costuming, jump on and off chairs and desks and through thin air in extraordinary feats of gymnastic momentum.

Dennis Kelly’s book and Tim Minchin’s music and lyrics, with Chris Nightingale’s orchestrations, make every scene magical and gripping. Karen Aldridge (as Mrs. Phelps) is Matilda’s school librarian, who participates in storytelling scenes of compelling proportions, with an escapologist in the mix. Matilda, an elementary age child, reads classic literature and can recite scenes and dialogue from the great works of Shakespeare and Dostoyevsky. When she imagines a chapter saga, in séance-like literary settings, she and Mrs. Phelps conjure up wild, colorful, smoky scenes. Speaking of wild and colorful, Matilda’s parents, Mr. Wormwood (Gabriel Ebert) and Mrs. Wormwood (Lesli Margherita) are over the top uproarious. Mr. Wormwood keeps calling Matilda “boy”, because his one son, Michael (Taylor Trensch), a low-level TV addict, is not enough. Neither parent wanted Matilda, with the mother always dolled up for her sexy ballroom coach. Mrs. Wormwood dances in competitions, and these minor plot twists are all combined to offer shifts in mood and flashy flourishes to what could have been a dark, dreary Oliver Twist-like tale. Instead we get the equivalent of a live 3-D experience with kaleidoscopic imagery. Action is complex and intertwined. Ms. Margherita and Mr. Ebert magnetize attention every time they take the spotlight. Their outlandish costumes, Mr. Wormwood’s brightly colored checkered suit and glowing tie, Mrs. Wormwood’s Latin dance outfit, thanks to Rob Howell, set the tone every time. Mr. Howell also designed the sets for the chalky classroom, the bright library, and the surreal fantasy scenes, with multi-levels that allow propulsive motion, at times, as well as incredible solos for Matilda (Ms. Shapiro).

Matilda’s teacher is named Miss Honey (Lauren Ward), and another plot twist brings her into personal contention, dealing with a bit of real estate, with Trunchbull, and later with the Wormwoods, dealing with the care and fate of Matilda. Ms. Ward is the quintessential nurturer, the iconic dedicated educator, and somewhat vulnerable as well. Miss Honey and Matilda form a symbiotic relationship in the midst of Trunchbull torture. Miss Honey’s solo, “Pathetic”, is rendered with charm. Matilda’s “Naughty” and “Quiet” make Ms. Shapiro seem more mature than her 10 years. This is a young artist to watch. “The Smell of Rebellion”, featuring Trunchbull, Honey, and children brought the house down. David Holcenberg kept the orchestra vivid and vibrant. Peter Darling’s choreography was as percussive as the drums, with children kicking, rolling, leaping, and spinning with astounding energy. Sound, lighting, and illusion, respectively by Simon Baker, Hugh Vanstone, and Paul Kieve, were flawless, with crispness, clarity, and bright coloration from start to finish. Matthew Warchus has directed this multitudinous cast with seamless and stunning dance, athleticism, music, and dialogue. Kudos to all.

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at