Review by Lia Cocks
Matilda the Musical is a stage musical based on the 1988 children’s novel of the same name by Roald Dahl.
Adapted by Dennis Kelly with music and lyrics by Australia’s Tim Minchin, Matilda is a dark comedy, with the musical’s narrative centring on Matilda, an extraordinary little girl with extraordinary powers. The daughter of offensive and belligerent parents, Matilda finds refuge in library books, which she reads with lightning speed and creates her own stories.
Things are no better at school, where Matilda must face the tyrannical and cruel headmistress, Miss Trunchbull, who believes in Crunchem Hall’s motto: ‘Bambinatum est Magitum’ or ‘Children are Maggots’.
She finds companionship in her teacher, Miss Honey, though well intentioned, is cautious and fragile. Brave little Matilda knows she has to stand up against the adults in her world, and in doing so, discovers her own remarkable powers.
Matilda’s bravery teaches Miss Honey and her classmates an important lesson – that even though life can be hard, ‘nobody but me is gonna change my story’ or ‘sometimes you have to be a little bit naughty’.
Matilda the Musical has received widespread critical acclaim and box office popularity, so it’s no surprise it is a hit with various youth and school productions around the world.
Director Jo Casson has taken on the mammoth task of bringing Matilda to life with the students of Pulteney Grammar School; her experience and professionalism truly evident in all aspects of the production from the choreography [a role she shared with Rosanna Commisso], to the stage direction, from the characterisations to the camaraderie plainly seen from the students throughout.
She very clearly brought out the best in them!
The clever and ingenious music of Matilda was reverberating through the hall thanks to the superb direction of Head of Performing Arts, Jonathon Rice and his talented orchestra.
Fabulous set, props, costumes and multimedia projections had me wondering if I was watching a school production or a professional one!
The lighting, especially during ‘The Hammer’ and ‘When I Grow Up’, was superb.
Pulteney Grammar School is certainly spoilt for talent, and their lead actors were all perfectly cast.
Oscar Bridges as Miss Trunchbull, the tyrannical and overbearing headmistress at Matilda's school who despises children, was in a word marvellous.
Traditionally a male playing this role, this young man did not shy away from the challenge. He played the cruel and sadistic Trunchbull, as sly and conniving, cunning and slinky with an immeasurable vocal and character range. Bridges has a very bright future ahead of him.
Miss Honey; Matilda's kind-hearted teacher, was portrayed by Ella Wood. An enchantingly strong singer and actor; her sweet and honest voice made the role truly compelling.
Harry Oates’ version of Mr Wormwood, Matilda's uncaring father, is a hoot.
His slimy, greedy used-car salesman is unintentionally hilarious. A fab actor and comedian, he had all his flairs on display during his rendition of ‘All I Know’.
Mrs Wormwood - Matilda's self-absorbed, negligent mother and an amateur ballroom dancer was played by the super dazzling Addi Schwartz.
To call this young lady a triple threat would be an understatement. Her interpretation of ‘Loud’ was side-splitting riot. To carry off this role requires maturity and skill, something Schwartz has in spades.
Special mention to Liam Goodes as the kind, chocolate loving, Chokey banished Bruce Bogtrotter and Isabella Haarsma as Matilda’s squeaky and enthusiastic best friend.
But watching young Taylor Schwartz as Matilda; the titular imaginative girl who is clever and wise far beyond her years, is an absolute joy.
Her portrayal as the girl for a thirst for learning that cannot be quenched is likable and charismatic, not annoying or pretentious. Honest and unassuming, but with a prankster streak and a strong sense of justice, Schwartz makes this role her absolute own. She is ‘on’ the entire time, never falters or fades. I absolutely loved her.
Well done to the team at Pulteney Grammar School – your commitment to the creative arts is one to be commended.
Until next year…
Image Credit: Nick Hassan