“When I grow up, I will be brave enough to fight the creatures that you have to fight beneath the bed each night to be a grown up.”
The escalator to the exits at the Swiss Cottage tube station (the station closest to my hostel) was always lined with posters for different plays and musicals in London, so I wanted to look into seeing if I could catch a show in the West End. There were a lot of options, including popular musicals like Book of Mormon (which I had already seen at the Pantages), Wicked, The Lion King, and more. I figured that it would be cool to find a musical that had its origins in the United Kingdom and that’s where Matilda The Musical came in.
Matilda The Musical was actually in Los Angeles a few months ago as part of its US Tour, but I didn’t see it then. I was interested though since I had good memories of the Matilda movie while growing up, but I don’t think I ever actually read Roald Dahl’s book in elementary school. Actually, on second thought, it might have been very possible that I did and my memory is just fogged up. I visited the Cambridge Theatre the day of the show that I wanted to see and bought a ticket for £23.50 (~$36.23 USD). That’s pretty affordable when you consider that some of the cheapest seats at the Pantages can run between the $35 to $45 range, not including service fees and tax.
The production was stellar and even though weeks have passed since I saw it, I still have songs from the show stuck in my head. I think the themes of writing your own story and taking control of your fate kind of resonated with me and it also helped that many things, from the set design to the choreography to the music, were very inventive and fun to listen to and look at. My favorite song was probably “When I Grow Up”, which I quoted at the beginning of this post. At what point in adulthood is one supposed to feel “grown up”? I know that I’m not alone in asking that question. It’s just a sweet and idealistic song, and when Miss Honey comes in for her part, there is just this aching that seems so real because, for many people, it is.
I also really liked “The School Song” because it is just so creative and you don’t know how creative the song is at first until they literally have to spell it for you. Pun intended.
Another song that I liked was “Revolting Children”, more so because it reminded me of one of my favorite scenes in I Love Lucy that also plays on that pun. It happens in the episode “Pioneer Women” from the first season and Lucy and Ethel walk into a room where Ricky and Fred are because they are tired of doing all the housework. Lucy tells Ricky, “We’re revolting!” and Ricky replies, “No more than usual”. Haha, I love it.
There were some minor things that I did find a little strange. There may be some spoilers in this if you know nothing about Matilda in book, movie, or musical form, so skip the next paragraph if you like. Anyway, I thought the appearance of Matilda’s telekinetic powers came out of nowhere pretty late in the story, but that is also because I was more used to the movie version where there were hints early on that she could do things with her mind. I also thought the Russian mafia dude singing the reprise of “This Little Girl” near the end was really awkward, but at least it’s not present on any of the cast recordings. Other than those minor gripes, I think everything else was great.
Matilda, which was developed by the Royal Shakespeare Company, actually premiered in Stratford-Upon-Avon in 2010 and made its West End debut a year later in 2011. It has won seven Olivier awards (including Best New Musical), the most ever one by a single show at that time. The only other show to accomplish that feat is the play The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which I actually saw when I returned to London in the last leg of my trip, but you’ll just have to wait a bit for a post on that one.
Matilda was such a fun production to watch and I totally would recommend seeing it if you get the chance!
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