philly file · November 15 2018

The Magic of Matilda

During our babymoon in the United Kingdom nearly 6 years ago, my husband and I serendipitously found ourselves in front of West End's Cambridge Theatre minutes before a matinee show of Matilda the Musical was about to start. With the spontaneous whim that frequently influenced our lives before children, we decided to indulge in our love for musicals, having no expectations and only a vague remembrance of the Roald Dahl story. Needless to say, we left the theatre that afternoon with inspired smiles and lively conversation surrounding the charm and wit of such a well-cast, cleverly written musical.

Fast forward to last night, when my husband and I took our now-five-and-three-quarters-year-old daughter to the opening night of Matilda at Walnut Street Theatre, still remembering the joy that it brought us when we first saw it. I am pleased to report that the Philadelphia production easily lived up to my expectations and oozed as much charm as the original. The stage burst with energy among Robert Koharchik's colorful sets, with brilliant direction from Linda Goodrich and playful choreography from Michelle Guadette.

The cast seemed to enjoy the experience as much as the audience, with a few characters breaking the fourth wall to heighten the level of hilarity. One noteworthy cast member, Ian Merrill Peakes, had my entire family howling at his portrayal of Miss Trunchbull, with his exaggerated physicality and perfectly executed comedic timing dominating every scene. The rest of the key members continued to raise the bar as the musical progressed, never allowing for a moment of boredom or hint of disinterest. This was an impressive feat, considering half of the actors in the production were children. The young cast members were surprisingly accomplished. Throughout the show, the most roaring moments of applause  were in reaction to the jaw-dropping talents of the “revolting children.” There is no doubt several will eventually end up on Broadway, should they choose to follow such a path.

No need to take my word for it though – The fact that my daughter was able to stay awake, eyes glued to the stage for almost three hours, should speak volumes to the value of entertainment that Philadelphia’s regional theatre brings to the area. Don't miss your chance to experience the magic of Matilda, playing now through January 6, 2019, at Walnut Street Theatre.

Philed by Eleisha Eagle

Walnut Street Theatre
825 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107 US

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