Quote of the Day: Never do anything by halves if you want to get away with it. Be outrageous. Go the whole hog. Matilda Wormwood in Roald Dahl’s novel Matilda

Emily Gunyou Halaas as Miss Trunchbull with ensemble in Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical | Photo by Dan Norman

Matilda is a precocious, resourceful, intelligent, lonely, imaginative, fierce girl who perseveres despite some horrific conditions. He parents didn’t want her. Her dad keeps calling her a boy. Her brother is brain dead from watching too much television. The headmistress at her school is outrageously cruel. What does she do? She heads to the library, of course, where she devours every book she can get her hands on including the works of Dickens, Melville, and Austen. I love it that Dahl made her so smart. Not only is she a bookworm, and a lover of words and stories, she’s also good at math and science, with a secret, hidden talent, telekinesis. 

Photo by Dan Norman

Roald Dahl gave us the marvelous Matilda in his novel. She was brought to life on stage by Dennis Kelly (Book) and Tim Minchin (music and lyrics), who made it into a Broadway hit. The Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis, MN is now staging a production of this high energy, children empowering, musical. All of the actors from small to tall are fantastic. I attended this show with my friend and her daughters. We were all impressed with this production from the set to the choreography to the amazing music, lighting and sound. The costumes, designed by Helen Q. Huang, were spectacular! I haven’t read the book, but I brought two experts along. They’d read the book in class, then listened to the audio on a road trip last summer. They said the stage adaptation follows the book very well, but “Trunchbull was meaner in the book,” they said. Oh, my. She tips the chart on over the top, thick headed, nasty adults. (Diabolically played by the incredible Emily Gunyou Halaas.) 

Emily Gunyou Halaas as Miss Trunchbull in Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical | Photo by Dan Norman

Kids love a story where the rotten adults get it in the end, and Dahl writes that story well. It comes to life beautifully on stage under the excellent direction of Peter Brosius, who brings out the skill and energy of his actors and fills them with confidence. The choreography (by Linda Talcott Lee) is fast and furious. The kids looked like they were having a ball. I imagine most kids who go to this show will want a chance to do theater, too! I know, I did, and the girls who were with me did. Sofia Salmela, who played Matilda at the performance I attended, was outstanding. She had the personality, stage presence and delivery to bring this beloved character to life. (The show is cast with three girls playing the title character at different performances.) 

Dean Holt as Mr. Wormwood and Reed Sigmund as the Mechanic in Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical | Photo by Dan Norman

Dean Holt plays Matilda’s mean dad, Mr. Wormwood, but in such a way that he’s funny, and he has a great song to get us back in our seats after intermission. Autumn Ness is Matilda’s distracted mother, Mrs. Wormwood, who only wants to dance and encourages watching the telly, and NOT reading books. Her dance partner, Rudolpho (Tony Vierling) is absolutely hilarious! Reed Sigmund plays various roles with ease. Alexcia Thompson as Mrs. Phelps, the librarian, gives Matilda a safe place to escape into her stories. And, Miss Honey (China Brickey) represents all the good and kind teachers who truly love their students and want to help them, even when (or especially when) mean old headmistresses like Trunchbull reprimand her for teaching them how to spell!

Sofia Salmela as Matilda and China Brickey as Miss Honey in Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical | Photo by Dan Norman

Matilda is a highly entertaining production with wonderful music and a great story that lets kids know they can be more. They can rise above adversity. They can be the good in the world, and books and stories have the power to transport them to other worlds and give them hope.

Matilda is choreographed by Linda Talcott Lee, and music directed by Andrew Fleser. Design includes scenic design by Scott Davis, costume design by Helen Huang, lighting design by Philip Rosenberg, sound design by Sten Severson, projections by Jorge Cousineau (with help from Circus Juventasand performer, Stormy Hovan).

You can see Matilda, the Musical, at the Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis, MN through June 23, 2019. Tickets are already going fast!

Go. Create. Inspire!

Journaling Prompt: What books or stories transported and empowered you when you were young? 

I loved all of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books, and horse books, especially the Black Stallion books by Walter Farley.