Matilda the Musical
Rating: ★★★★★
Venue: Cambridge Theatre, London 
Cast: Arabella Stanton, Jaydon Eastman, Kieran Hill, Rakesh Boury, Amy Ellen Richardson and Lydia White 

Matilda The Musical is the multi-award winning musical from the Royal Shakespeare Company, inspired by the beloved book by the incomparable Roald Dahl.

With book by Dennis Kelly and original songs by Tim Minchin, Matilda the Musical is the story of an extraordinary little girl who, armed with a vivid imagination and a sharp mind, dares to take a stand and change her own destiny.

Although Matilda has had a home in the West End for over 10 years, it's one of the few shows I've yet to see. The book and original film hold such a special place in my heart, that I think I had an overwhelming fear of leaving the show disappointed. However, I'm happy to report, I couldn't have been more wrong!

I'm sure we're all familiar with the story of Matilda; however, this is a slightly different adaptation by the incredible Tim Minchin and Dennis Kelly. The story follows our young heroine, Matilda. She's bright, intelligent and a wonderful storyteller. However, her parents think quite the opposite. They spend more time entering salsa dancing contests and selling dodgy cars than parenting. 

However, once Matilda attends school for the first time, she's equal parts bewildered and entranced by her polar opposite teachers, Miss Honey and Miss Trunchbull. Matilda's eyes have been opened further to the cruelty of the world, but also the kindness it can offer

There has recently been a cast change for Matilda, and I was thrilled to be there for the new cast's second performance. Arabella Stanton was our Matilda, as she makes her West End debut in the show. I've seen many child actors in theatre, but Stanton is simply mesmerising. She captures the vulnerable yet determined side of Matilda perfectly, and embodies the quote, "though she be but little she is fierce", or in her own words, "even if you're little you can do a lot". A star in the making, to say the least.

Kieran Hill as Miss Trunchbull is tremendously awful, and I mean that in the best way. While we may be used to Miss Trunchbull simply terrifying us, Kieran brings a funnier, comedic side to the character (don't worry, we do still hate her!). He's managed to make her threatening, yet utterly ridiculous, which is no small feat!

Lydia White as the soft-spoken and meek, Miss Honey plays the perfect understated character, with all the sensitivity and kindness you'd expect. Her rendition of "My House" left me feeling emotional and heavily invested in her character's arc.

The set, staging and choreography make for some sensational big musical numbers on the stage. Fan favourites such as "When I Grow Up" and "Revolting Children" are just as wonderful as you'd imagine. But the stripped back numbers such as "Quiet" and "Naughty" whereby it's just Matilda on the stage; they have a certain kind of still magic that it's difficult to capture in live theatre.

If you're looking for a feel-good musical, that is equal parts uplifting and wickedly fun, then Matilda is the show for you. While it's kept light-hearted and comical for children, the underlying themes of belonging throughout is something you'll leave the theatre thinking about. A musical that's full of heart and childlike wonder.

You can catch Matilda at the Cambridge Theatre. Tickets available via the London Box Office here.

*photography by Manuel Harlan*

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