“Children Are Maggots”, that is the motto of the Crunchem Hall Primary School, run by grim headmistress Miss Trunchbull, in Matilda The Musical. Now playing at The Arts Club Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage, Matilda the Musical is based on Roald Dahl’s children’s fantasy novel, adapted by Dennis Kelly, with music and lyrics by Tim Minchin.
Matilda The Musical is a riot from start to finish, at times quite literally, as Matilda the 5 year old title character declares ‘sometimes you have to be a little bit naughty’. Well played by Georgia Acken, who alternates the role with Thailey Roberge, both making their Arts Club debuts, Matilda is a smart-as-a-whip, bookworm, bullied by her parents and more comfortable in the library than home. As she starts school, she finds herself allied with the other students, played by a mix of newcomers and up-and-coming young local actors, who are bullied by Miss Trunchbull. While the young ensemble all bring a smile to your face as they sing and dance their way through the insults and tyranny of the headmistress, it’s the adults who really bring the laughs. Lauren Bowler plays Mrs Wormwood with the comedic flair of a classic Carol Burnett character. As Mr Wormwood, Ben Elliott brings cartoon-like physical comedy with a dancer’s lightness to the stage. However, the real stand-out is John Ullyatt playing Miss Trunchbull, the former Olympic hammer thrower now rules Crunchem with an iron fist as its headmistress, who finds children revolting. Ullyatt gives an over-the-top performance that would fit in perfectly at St Trinian’s, able to bring the audience to tears of laughter without saying a word, a scowl or raised eyebrow is all that’s needed.
The Arts Club’s Artistic Director Ashlie Corcoran noted that Matilda was on her wish list for a dream season when she interviewed for her position. Now, in partnership with Citadel Theatre and Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, her dream is a reality. Matilda The Musical is directed by Citadel Theatre’s Daryl Cloran, who also brought is the amazing Beatles-inspired As You Like It to Bard On The Beach last season, and brings his creative brush to Roald Dahl’s whimsical creation. While Dahl’s story of being able to change your story to get more out of like was written more than 3 decades ago, the theme is timeless. Even though the musical runs a lengthy 2 hours 35 minutes (with intermission) you’ll leave the theatre wishing you had more time with these eccentric characters and brilliant young Matilda.
Matilda The Musical runs until July 14, 2019 at The Arts Club Industrial Alliance Theatre. For tickets and showtimes visit artsclub.com