Review: Matilda the Musical (Broadway in Chicago)

| April 2, 2016

Matilda

Mia Sinclair Jenness
Bryce Ryness

 Jenness, and Ryness will be joined by fellow principal cast members Jennifer Blood (Miss Honey), Quinn Mattfeld (Mr. Wormwood) and Cassie Silva (Mrs. Wormwood).

The ensemble will include Cal Alexander, Kayla Amistad, Cameron Burke, Brittany Conigatti, Michael Fatica, Wesley Faucher, John Michael Fiumara, Camden Gonzales, Shonica Gooden, Evan Gray, Cassidy Hagel, Meliki Hurd, Michael D. Jablonski, Luke Kolbe Mannikus, Stephanie Martignetti, Megan McGuff, Ora Jones, Justin Packard, Serena Quadrato, Aristotle Rock, Jaquez Andre Sims, Ian Michael Stuart, Danny Tieger, Kaci Walfall, Natalie Wisdom and Darius Wright.         
   
        
Matilda the Musical

By Tim Minchin (music & lyrics) 
    and Dennis Kelly (book)
Based on the novel by Roald Dahl
Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph (map)
thru Apr 10  |  tix: $33-$90  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets   
    


    
  

Magical, inspiring story for kids of all ages

  

Matilda

Mia Sinclair Jenness
Bryce Ryness

 Jenness, and Ryness will be joined by fellow principal cast members Jennifer Blood (Miss Honey), Quinn Mattfeld (Mr. Wormwood) and Cassie Silva (Mrs. Wormwood).

The ensemble will include Cal Alexander, Kayla Amistad, Cameron Burke, Brittany Conigatti, Michael Fatica, Wesley Faucher, John Michael Fiumara, Camden Gonzales, Shonica Gooden, Evan Gray, Cassidy Hagel, Meliki Hurd, Michael D. Jablonski, Luke Kolbe Mannikus, Stephanie Martignetti, Megan McGuff, Ora Jones, Justin Packard, Serena Quadrato, Aristotle Rock, Jaquez Andre Sims, Ian Michael Stuart, Danny Tieger, Kaci Walfall, Natalie Wisdom and Darius Wright.

    
Broadway in Chicago presents
    
Matilda the Musical

Review by Catey Sullivan 

Within the pages of Roald Dahl’s enthralling-at-any-age books, you’ll find the most bone-chilling adults in the canon of children’s literature. Villians such as James and the Giant Peach’s blobbishly vicious Aunt Sponge and barbed-wire prickly Aunt Spike can haunt your dreams some 45ish years after a first reading of the classic.

Photo by Brian TietzOne of the key strengths that make Dahl’s books classics is the author’s unwillingness to soften things. There’s no condescending layer of gauze filtering out the myriad terrors of childhood or the terrors that adults can visit upon children. Dahl’s heroes – Charlie Bucket, James Henry Trotter, and Matilda Wormwood among them – have to negotiate a world that doesn’t give a fig for innocence. So it goes with Matilda the Musical, Tim Minchin (music and lyrics) and Dennis Kelly’s (book) faithful and marvelously spirited adaptation of Dahl’s 1988 children’s novel.

Directed by Matthew Warchus, Matilda the Musical” is terrific in terms of production values and performances. But the thing that makes it such a joyous event is its adherence to Dahl’s tone. Unlike some adaptations of Dahl’s works, the stage version of “Matilda” doesn’t blur the story’s harsh edges with treacle and sentiment. The show is downright harrowing at times, as it should be. Matilda’s world – before she sets things right and engineers her own happily-ever-after – is treacherous and unfair, a den of sadistic bullies who live to terrorize those who are smaller and less inclined to cruelty.

Like the book, Matilda the Musical is as funny as it is smart. The monsters Matilda faces are the stuff of nightmares, but her ingenious means of outsmarting them is often hilarious.

The plot centers on the title child (Lily Brooks O’Briant opening night, Sarah McKinley Austin and Savannah Grace Elmer at alternate performances). Matilda is a voraciously literate little girl trapped in a family where television and stupidity are prized commodities and reading is considered “disgusting.” Matilda’s father Mr. Wormwood (Quinn Mattfeld) has the brains and vanity of a rooster. Her mother Mrs. Wormwood (Cassie Silva) can tango better than she can think, and shares her husband’s predilection for pompous hairdos and garish clothing.

Matilda

Gabby Gutierrez
Bryce Ryness

Gutierrez and Ryness will be joined by fellow principal cast members Jennifer Blood (Miss Honey), Quinn Mattfeld (Mr. Wormwood) and Cassie Silva (Mrs. Wormwood).

The ensemble will include Cal Alexander, Kayla Amistad, Cameron Burke, Brittany Conigatti, Michael Fatica, Wesley Faucher, John Michael Fiumara, Camden Gonzales, Shonica Gooden, Evan Gray, Cassidy Hagel, Meliki Hurd, Michael D. Jablonski, Luke Kolbe Mannikus, Stephanie Martignetti, Megan McGuff, Ora Jones, Justin Packard, Serena Quadrato, Aristotle Rock, Jaquez Andre Sims, Ian Michael Stuart, Danny Tieger, Kaci Walfall, Natalie Wisdom and Darius Wright.

Matilda

Mabel Tyler
Bryce Ryness

Tyler and Ryness will be joined by fellow principal cast members Jennifer Blood (Miss Honey), Quinn Mattfeld (Mr. Wormwood) and Cassie Silva (Mrs. Wormwood).

The ensemble will include Cal Alexander, Kayla Amistad, Cameron Burke, Brittany Conigatti, Michael Fatica, Wesley Faucher, John Michael Fiumara, Camden Gonzales, Shonica Gooden, Evan Gray, Cassidy Hagel, Meliki Hurd, Michael D. Jablonski, Luke Kolbe Mannikus, Stephanie Martignetti, Megan McGuff, Ora Jones, Justin Packard, Serena Quadrato, Aristotle Rock, Jaquez Andre Sims, Ian Michael Stuart, Danny Tieger, Kaci Walfall, Natalie Wisdom and Darius Wright.

 Matilda

Mia Sinclair Jenness
Bryce Ryness

 Jenness, and Ryness will be joined by fellow principal cast members Jennifer Blood (Miss Honey), Quinn Mattfeld (Mr. Wormwood) and Cassie Silva (Mrs. Wormwood).

The ensemble will include Cal Alexander, Kayla Amistad, Cameron Burke, Brittany Conigatti, Michael Fatica, Wesley Faucher, John Michael Fiumara, Camden Gonzales, Shonica Gooden, Evan Gray, Cassidy Hagel, Meliki Hurd, Michael D. Jablonski, Luke Kolbe Mannikus, Stephanie Martignetti, Megan McGuff, Ora Jones, Justin Packard, Serena Quadrato, Aristotle Rock, Jaquez Andre Sims, Ian Michael Stuart, Danny Tieger, Kaci Walfall, Natalie Wisdom and Darius Wright.Matilda

Mia Sinclair Jenness
Bryce Ryness

 Jenness, and Ryness will be joined by fellow principal cast members Jennifer Blood (Miss Honey), Quinn Mattfeld (Mr. Wormwood) and Cassie Silva (Mrs. Wormwood).

The ensemble will include Cal Alexander, Kayla Amistad, Cameron Burke, Brittany Conigatti, Michael Fatica, Wesley Faucher, John Michael Fiumara, Camden Gonzales, Shonica Gooden, Evan Gray, Cassidy Hagel, Meliki Hurd, Michael D. Jablonski, Luke Kolbe Mannikus, Stephanie Martignetti, Megan McGuff, Ora Jones, Justin Packard, Serena Quadrato, Aristotle Rock, Jaquez Andre Sims, Ian Michael Stuart, Danny Tieger, Kaci Walfall, Natalie Wisdom and Darius Wright. Matilda

Gabby Gutierrez
Bryce Ryness

Gutierrez and Ryness will be joined by fellow principal cast members Jennifer Blood (Miss Honey), Quinn Mattfeld (Mr. Wormwood) and Cassie Silva (Mrs. Wormwood).

The ensemble will include Cal Alexander, Kayla Amistad, Cameron Burke, Brittany Conigatti, Michael Fatica, Wesley Faucher, John Michael Fiumara, Camden Gonzales, Shonica Gooden, Evan Gray, Cassidy Hagel, Meliki Hurd, Michael D. Jablonski, Luke Kolbe Mannikus, Stephanie Martignetti, Megan McGuff, Ora Jones, Justin Packard, Serena Quadrato, Aristotle Rock, Jaquez Andre Sims, Ian Michael Stuart, Danny Tieger, Kaci Walfall, Natalie Wisdom and Darius Wright.

Home is bad For Matilda, but school is worse. Matilda’s Crunchem Hall boarding school looks like a North Korean gulag on the outside, and is not nearly as inviting on the inside. It is run by the aptly named Miss Trunchbull (David Abeles), a top-heavy giantess of a woman who looks every inch the National Hammer Throwing champion she was in her youth. Trunchbull lives to toss children about like her beloved hammers, and to torture them by locking them up in the dreaded “chokey”, a tiny closet lined with skin-piercing rusty nails and glass shards.

There is one bright spot at school: Kind, smart Miss Honey (Jennifer Blood) recognizes Matilda’s potential and is determined to save the little girl. Finally, Matilda’s world includes a beloved librarian (Chicago’s Ora Jones) enraptured by Matilda’s powers of storytelling.

Matilda’s story is touched by magic as much as it is by intelligence. Together, the two elements add up to an incendiary adventure. Warchus’ and his cast – with the help of stage illusion designer Paul Kieve – make the supernatural elements of the book sizzle in ways that both horrify and delight. When Miss Trunchbull picks up a tiny child and flings her around by the pigtails at face-blowing velocity, you’ll fear for the tot’s safety. When Matilda spins the story of a fearless acrobat and her magician husband, you can practically smell the circus sawdust. And when Matilda finally channels her superpowers toward undoing Miss Trunchbull, the moment is as dazzling as it is satisfying.

Sarah McKinley Austin, Lily Brooks O’Briant and Savannah Grace Elmer Warchus gets fine performances out of everyone: O’Briant is never precious or cutesy as Matilda, completely capturing the uber-serious, never-smiling urchin that powers the book. Blood’s Miss Honey shows the good teacher’s distress without making her a gooey-eyed damsel in distress. There’s distress for certain, but Miss Honey also has a spine. Abeles’ Miss Trunchbull is appropriately ghastly, a pop-eyed gorgon of a bloodthirsty bully whose comeuppance will have you applauding. And Jones brings a radiant warmth to the librarian entranced by Matilda’s spellbinding feats of make-believe.

The ensemble of children have a collective energy that radiates off the stage, especially when moving through choreographer Peter Darling’s Tony-winning dances. Ryan Christopher Dever’s solo spot in “Revolting Children” raises the rafters and brings down the house, making the finale one of the most memorable you’re apt to see on a musical stage.

Minchin’s score throughout is a rather astonishing distillation of both the emotions and the events of the book. “When I Grow Up” – performed as children swing out over the audience – is a wistful, soaring anthem that nails the innocence of childhood dreams and the melancholic realizations that come when childhood vanishes and dreams fade. The opening “Miracle” is an acerbic commentary on slavish, helicopter parentis who believe their child and their child alone is the most special snowflake in the entire universe.

Matilda the Musical is indeed special. It’s an empowering story about dealing with bullies. It is also a story that celebrates imagination. And that will make you believe, if only a little bit, in childhood magic.

  
Rating: ★★★★
  
   

Matilda the Musical continues through April 10th at Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph (map), with performances Tuesdays 7:30pm, Wednesdays 2pm & 7:30pm, Thursdays/Fridays 7:30pm, Saturdays 2pm & 8pm, Sundays 2pm.  Tickets are $33-$90, and are available by phone (800-775-2000) or online through Ticketmaster.com (check for half-price tickets at Goldstar.com). More information at BroadwayInChicago.com(Running time: 2 hours 40 minutes, includes an intermission)

Matilda

Gabby Gutierrez
Bryce Ryness

Gutierrez and Ryness will be joined by fellow principal cast members Jennifer Blood (Miss Honey), Quinn Mattfeld (Mr. Wormwood) and Cassie Silva (Mrs. Wormwood).

The ensemble will include Cal Alexander, Kayla Amistad, Cameron Burke, Brittany Conigatti, Michael Fatica, Wesley Faucher, John Michael Fiumara, Camden Gonzales, Shonica Gooden, Evan Gray, Cassidy Hagel, Meliki Hurd, Michael D. Jablonski, Luke Kolbe Mannikus, Stephanie Martignetti, Megan McGuff, Ora Jones, Justin Packard, Serena Quadrato, Aristotle Rock, Jaquez Andre Sims, Ian Michael Stuart, Danny Tieger, Kaci Walfall, Natalie Wisdom and Darius Wright.

Photos by Brian Tietz, Joan Marcus 


  

artists

cast

Sarah McKinley Austin, Lily Brooks O’Briant, Savannah Grace Elmer (Matilda), Jennifer Blood (Miss Honey), Quinn , Mattfeld (Mr. Wormwood), David Abeles (Miss Trunchbull), Cassie Silva (Mrs. Wormwood), Ora Jones (librarian), Ryan Christopher Dever (Bruce), Esther Antoine, Cameron Burke, Tony d’Alelio, Stephen Diaz, Heidi Friese, Camden Gonzales, Evan Gray, Cassidy Hagel, Jordan Hall, Ashlee Elizabeth Hale, Charlie Kersh, Michael D. Jablonski, Austyn Johnson, Megan McGuff, Trey Middleton, Justin Packard, Aristotle Rock, Kim Sava, Jaquez Andre Sims, Madison Smith, Ian Michael Stuart, Danny Tieger, Ted Wilson, Natalie Wisdom, Darius Wright (ensemble).

orchestra

Matthew Smedal (conductor, keyboard 2), Bill Congdon (asst. conductor, keyboard), Joshua Priest (percussion), Anna Stadlman (bass), Steve Leinheiser (reed 1), Sean McNeely (reed 2), Tim Burke (trumpet 1), Kevin Hartman (trumpet 2), Andy Baker (trombone), Jocelyn Davis-Beck (cello), Steve Roberts (guitar)

behind the scenes

Matthew Warchus (director ), Dennis Kelly (book), Tim Minchin (music and lyrics), Rob Howell (costume, set designer), Peter Darling (choreography), Christopher Nightingale (orchestrations, additional music and musical supervision), Simon Baker (sound design), Hugh Vanstone (lighting design), Paul Kieve (stage illusion design), Ellen Kane, Kate Dunn (associate choreographers), Thomas Caruso (associate director), Paul Weimer (associate set designer), Joel Shier (associate lighting design), Tony Smolenski IV (associate sound design), Jeanie O’Hare (commissioning dramaturg), Jim Carnahan, Nora Brennan (casting), Andrew Wade (voice director), David Holcenberg (associate musical supervisor), Matthew Smedal (music director), Bill Congdon (children’s music director), Howard Jones (music coordinator), Emily Grishman, Katharine Edmonds (music preparation), Phij Adams (music technology), Aurora Productions (production management), Victoria Navarro (production stage manager), Mitchell B. Hodges (stage manager), Sarah Testerman (asst. stage manager), Broadway Booking Office (tour booking, management), Denise Wood, Andre Ptaszynski (executive producers), Royal Shakespeare Company, The Dodgers (producers), Brian Tietz, Joan Marcus (photographers)

Matilda

Gabby Gutierrez
Bryce Ryness

Gutierrez and Ryness will be joined by fellow principal cast members Jennifer Blood (Miss Honey), Quinn Mattfeld (Mr. Wormwood) and Cassie Silva (Mrs. Wormwood).

The ensemble will include Cal Alexander, Kayla Amistad, Cameron Burke, Brittany Conigatti, Michael Fatica, Wesley Faucher, John Michael Fiumara, Camden Gonzales, Shonica Gooden, Evan Gray, Cassidy Hagel, Meliki Hurd, Michael D. Jablonski, Luke Kolbe Mannikus, Stephanie Martignetti, Megan McGuff, Ora Jones, Justin Packard, Serena Quadrato, Aristotle Rock, Jaquez Andre Sims, Ian Michael Stuart, Danny Tieger, Kaci Walfall, Natalie Wisdom and Darius Wright.

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Category: 2016 Reviews, Broadway in Chicago, Catey Sullivan, Children's Theatre, Musical, National Tours, Oriental Theatre (Ford), Video, YouTube

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