Matilda Jr the Musical

Based on Roald Dahl’s beloved children’s novel, Matilda tells the story of a precocious five-year-old girl who loves books, hates bullies, and is revealed to have telekinetic powers which she uses to help defeat the tyrannical headmistress of her unpleasant school. The novel was adapted into a movie in 1996 which was Americanised but generally true to the book. However, the most successful adaptation is the multiple award-winning stage musical by Dennis Kelly and Tim Minchin. This production by Nardone’s Academy of Performing Arts is the Junior version of the show which trims down the plot and shortens some of the songs.

A delightful performance

Erin Kempton does a fantastic job in the title role, their Matilda is quietly mischievous and intelligent but likeable. Dylan Weatherup gets that perfect balance of making Mr Wormwood a horrible character yet a highlight of the show. Special mention must go to Keava Doig who takes the small role of Mrs Wormwood and absolutely squeezes it for every opportunity to screech, squeal, and overact to a fantastic level. They’re challenged for the title of show-stealer by Cole McLaren’s Agatha Trunchbull who delivers every line with a knowing smirk and delights whilst chewing the scenery and abusing the schoolchildren. Noah Brotherton does an excellent job as Bruce Bogtrotter and nails the showstopper, Revolting Children. The ensemble is generally tight, and all the children seem to be having a fantastic time.

The children do an admirable job of keeping the show high energy and are by far the best thing about the performance. Unfortunately, the direction doesn’t make very good use of the thrust stage meaning that many of the audience are simply watching the side of a show. There’s also some clunky choreography due to the large cast and fixed flats that mean there’s some awkward squeezing past the set for some of the children, but it’s a small complaint in a delightful performance. I look forward to more from this company.

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Reviews by Frodo Allan

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Matilda Jr the Musical

★★★★
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The Blurb

Based on Roald Dahl's hugely popular children's novel following the story of a girl named Matilda, an undiscovered genius living with her wheeler-dealer family. Will her immense intelligence and magical powers destroy evil Miss Trunchbull? Matilda is recommended for children aged three and above. A fun-filled Fringe experience for all the family to explore and enjoy. With incredible musical orchestration by Tim Minchin and book by Dennis Kelly, this now recognisable musical will have you singing and dancing all the way home and is a show not to be missed!

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