Thursday, February 9, 2017

reviews - MATILDA THE MUSICAL - National Tour: ASU Gammage

Hannah Levinson
Photo by Joan Marcus

highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through February 12th.

"... Playwright Dennis Kelly has taken (Roald) Dahl’s subversively dark but comical and ultimately moral story of the little girl with secret powers and expanded upon it, complete with a memorable new musical score from Tim Minchin and some fabulous, exciting choreography by Peter Darling. Little English child Matilda Wormwood (played on press night by the delightful Hannah Levinson) may only be five, but she’s years ahead of her time..Considering that her parents and her older brother are idiots, it’s amazing Matilda has any sense at all. ...Matilda takes charge of her own life by visiting the library and devouring books. ...the story really takes off once Matilda begins her schooling at the woebegone Crunchem Hall... run by the repulsive and frightening figure of a headmistress, Miss Trunchbull (Dan Chameroy)’s not always easy to read the important chalk writings on the classroom school board or, due perhaps to many of the youthful, high-pitched voices, fully understand some of the children’s dialog, but otherwise, this current touring production of Matilda is an energetic, bouncy, colorful, and thoroughly engaging piece of new, modern musical theatre that delights right up until the happy ending when both Matilda and Miss Honey literally turn cartwheels....." -David Appleford, Valley Screen and Stage (click here to read the complete review)

"...Fortunately for the Royal Shakespeare Company, even though Matilda doesn't quite have the universal emotional appeal of (their) Les Misérables, it is a hugely entertaining family musical that had a healthy run on Broadway and the national tour is just as good as the Broadway production. Based on the children's novel of the same name by Roald Dahl and with a book by Dennis Kelly and a score by Tim Minchin, Matilda tells the familiar story of a young girl who is misunderstood and unloved but who finds love in books and through her school teacher...But things get worse when Matilda is sent to school, where the dreaded, sadistic Miss Trunchbull, who thinks all kids are "maggots," is the headmistress. Fortunately, Matilda's sweet but mousy teacher Miss Honey sees the gifts that Matilda has and together they help each other overcome their obstacles and demons.
...Hannah Levinson...embodies Matilda with a fearlessness that shows how she is smart but not cocky, fearless, and sassy, yet heartbreaking as well. ...As the mean Miss Trunchbull, Dan Chameroy has a ball in playing a sadistic, hateful and enormous character that you love to hate ...Other notable parts include Jennifer Bowles as Miss Honey, the school teacher who takes Matilda under her wing. ...creates a touching and effective character that you root for..Matt Harrington is hilarious and even a bit touching as Matilda's father, while Darcy Stewart is a hoot as Matilda's self-absorbed mother....The score by Tim Minchin includes many memorable songs, including Matilda's first act solo "Naughty" and the second act opener "When I Grow Up" that you'll be humming for days after you come out of the theatre. ..The entire creative Broadway team recreates their efforts for this tour. Director Matthew Warchus has conjured up a fantastic, almost imaginary world for us to visit..Set designer Rob Howell won a Tony for his magical set and while his tour design is somewhat pared back from the Broadway production...his tour set still holds many magical effects..While this is an enjoyable show I still have a few quibbles. Even though she is the title character, Matilda is occasionally pushed a little into the background. There are several times when the ensemble is singing together, or in the storytelling segments when Matilda and another character are speaking in unison, and you really can't make out what they are saying. ...Also, as I mentioned above, Trunchbull doesn't really get the grand exit she deserves and, while Miss Honey is lovely, we spend a little too much time with her character than we should, since this is supposed to be Matilda's story...While Matilda may not be the greatest musical ever created it does hit many high notes, including colorful, over the top characters that are easily identifiable, a creative set, a cast that throws themselves into the material, a score and book that have many memorable moments, and direction that manages to hold everything together while delivering many laughs and even a few tears.. " -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

COMING SOON --Chris Curcio, KBAQ (click here to read the complete review)

"...“Matilda the Musical,” the Broadway hit based on the 1988 children’s novel by Roald Dahl... is the generation-next answer to “Annie,” with adorable foot-stomping child actors and a peppy score by Tim Minchin. ...(a) rollicking, darkly satirical gem ..tempers whimsy with a subversive naughtiness that isn’t strictly for kids....Matilda Wormwood, a 5-year-old prodigy who reads Dickens and Dostoyevsky...even though her parents are abusive and gleefully anti-intellectual...Far worse, though, is Miss Trunchbull..the shrieking, fascistic headmistress of Matilda’s school... Dan Chameroy, who is deliciously intimidating in a quintessentially English caricature of authority run amok. ...pint-size spitfire Hannah Levinson, one of three young actors rotating in the role of Matilda. Fierce and tireless while carrying a huge show on her tiny shoulders, she radiates with a moral determination that’s about as inspiring as any fictional hero could be.....breaks the rules of storytelling by eschewing obvious foreshadowing...and taking comical detours that don’t have much to do with the plot...the show never compromises on its anarchic spirit, condemning the cruelty and hypocrisy of society ....“Matilda” ...celebrates the power of storytelling and extols the virtues of childlike innocence....there’s no doubt it packs a dramatic punch. " - Kerry Lengel, Arizona Republic (click here to read the complete review)

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