REVIEW: Matilda the Musical | Palace Theatre Manchester

If you didn’t attempt to move things with your mind, wish to live with Miss Honey or hide behind the sofa because of Miss Trunchbull then did you even have a childhood?

Matilda is one of the most famous books by one of my most favourite authors, Roald Dahl. He was a master of children’s stories and magician with words. So many of my favourite quotes are thanks to his beautiful mind.

My personal favourite, ‘Never grow up, always down’ from George’s Marvellous Medicine and ‘Never do things by halves. Go the whole hog. Make sure everything you do is so crazy it’s unbelievable’ from Matilda. And they only went and turned Matilda into a Musical didn’t they?

As an adult, the story is about an inspiring young girl with the bravery and wit to change her future and embrace her true self. As a child, Matilda is a magical, mischievous kid living a horrible life but changes that when she defeats a baddie using her mind.

You might also enjoy reading my reviews of Annie the Musical and Unfortunate: The untold story of Ursula the Witch.

Matilda the Musical, revolting or remarkable?

I’m pleased to report this Musical gets top marks from me. It is as fun and imaginative as the author himself. The story not a far cry from the original book. Phew!

The unusual and quirky music quickly creates a creepy comic world and somehow the lyrics are poignant and childish and witty all at the same time. The crazy haired Australian with a naughty side, Tim Minchin, was certainly the perfect man for the job. This haunting setting is continued through the stylised choreography with slick, sharp and angular movements.

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The stage turns to playground as the cast ride scooters, soar on swings and tumble across a gymnasium. It is clear this is a school and these are its unruly pupils.

The set stacks gigantic, colourful lettered blocks around the edge and spells out some familiar words. These are used at their most creative in ‘School song’ where they build and climb simultaneously. Very impressive!

And do you remember the infamous pigtail hammer throw? Well, that is magically recreated and wows in an act of stage wizardry.

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School Register

I’m always amazed by the talent of children and this was no different. The young actors and actresses are upmost professionals and perform the lines, lyrics and choreography with perfection. I couldn’t imagine being able to do all of that at their age.

Sophia Ally captures Matilda’s innocence and feisty nature and shines during her catchy solo, ‘Naughty’.  Rebecca Thornhill and Sebastian Torkia amp up horrid caricatures of Matilda’s dodgy dad and mindless mum bringing bags of comedy and silliness. Whilst Carly Thoms portrays Miss Honey as an awkward, self conscious women who is all things kind, sweet and nice. The beacon of hope in the story.

But the real star is Miss Trunchbull. Craig Els transforms into a menacing and ugly form towering over the cast. This along with his dainty yet grotesque physicality makes for an utterly terrifying baddie. His permanent disgust and shocking verbal abuse crown him the principle evil… principle.

matilda muscal

As you can see, I am primed and ready to star as the next Matilda. I may be 23 years too old for the role but surely my pose will land me the job? I left wanting to jump on stage, hijack the swings and shout ‘When I grow up’ across the auditorium.

Matilda the Musical is full of character, bursting with energy and a total magical triumph. I can not recommend it highly enough.

Suitable for children and big kids alike, join Matilda’s naughty crusade against Miss Trunchbull. After all, somewhere inside all of us is the power to change the world…

Buy tickets for Matilda the Musical at Cambridge Theatre in London. Tickets from £24.

Why not purchase the Original Broadway Cast Recording.

The UK tour played in Manchester from 18th September – 24th November.


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