Childhood is usually known as one of the best times of a person’s life. With no real responsibilities and under the care of loving parents, what is there to hate about being a child right? It does not matter that you probably don’t remember half of it accurately, but playground days and actually having time for friends are enough to make you nostalgic. However, what is generally accepted as true does not mean it applies to everyone and Matilda The Musical is here to bring dysfunctional families to the spotlight.
Inspired by a book by beloved author Ronald Dahl, the musical follows an intelligent 5-year old girl named Matilda (Sofia Poston). She loves reading and writing, but these loves are constantly being suppressed by her TV-obsessed parents (Claire Taylor & Stephan Jubber)who are not fond of her. Constantly seeking refuge in the library, she befriends librarian Mrs Phelps (Nompumelelo Mayiyane) and finds company in a kind teacher Miss Honey (Bethany Dickson). From verbal to emotional abuse, Matilda eventually learns to overcome living with her family by being a “little bit naughty” while battling the big bully that is Headteacher Miss Trunchbull (Ryan de Villiers) at school.
As one can expect from a musical mainly made for families with young children, the sets are amazingly eye-catching. No expense was spared in building the set pieces – ranging from book shelves that reach up to the ceiling to props that are only used for a single scene (a dance scene with swings, anybody?). Visually stunning with its overwhelming details and bright colours, the sets transform right in front of our eyes with ease – a theatrical embodiment of a child’s imagination. Even though I am way past my childhood by now, the set brought a smile to my face with each surprise.
Although plays and musicals are made up of more than just being pretty, the set for Matilda The Musical brought about a necessary magic to the show that it is indispensable, especially when accompanied with lights and sound.
And of course, no show is ever complete without its actors.
In Matilda The Musical, where dialogue and storytelling are the crux of the show, the actors are the ones heavily relied upon to cast the spell on the audience and keep us there until the end. The ensemble impressed with their execution of well choreographed dance numbers – every movement done in sync and with precision. They command presence whenever they are on stage and never failed to deliver.
Ryan de Villiers shone on stage as the tyrannical Miss Trunchbull. Ridiculous as a character, he used it to his advantage to clown around on stage and paraded his larger than life personality to the joy of the audience (and horror of the students on stage). On par with his comedic antics, Claire Taylor and Stephan Jubber made perfect parents you would never want to have in your life.
Lastly, Bethany Dickson was charming as Miss Honey with her sweet singing voice.
Although it was a pity that some text and lyrics were lost through the difficulty to understand, the performance was enjoyable and nothing short of fun. As much as it brings joy and the recollection of all the magic of childhood, it also brings to stage the forgotten children who come from dysfunctional families. To witness Matilda overcome adversity and to finally find a place she feels safe enough to belong, it gives all of us hope.
And we all know that we can do with a bit more hope in the world today.
Matilda The Musical
Date: 21st February – 17th March 2019
Venue: Sands Theatre at Marina Bay Sands
Time: Tuesday – Saturday, 7.30pm / Saturday, 2pm & 7.30pm / Sunday, 1pm & 6pm
Admission: From $68 (Concessions available. Get your tickets here.)
Photographs courtesy of Matilda The Musical tour & Base Entertainment Asia