Bristol Hippodrome

Matilda the Musical

May 2019

20-RSC Matilda The Musical UK & Ireland

Brilliant bookish Matilda 

Matilda the Musical maintains all the menace of master storyteller Roald Dahl by including the bits children so enjoy – vomit, snot, big burps, torture and even grisly murders.

Having said that this all-singing, all-dancing show with good old-fashioned gymnastics and magical illusions is also highly entertaining and very funny whatever your age.

An award-winning musical from the Royal Shakespeare Company, it was adapted by Dennis Kelly, with music and lyrics by Tim Minchin inspired by the book by the Welsh-born Dahl, a novelist, short story writer, poet, screenwriter, and fighter pilot!

Making her professional debut in the title role Olivia Cleverely is dwarfed by the huge Bristol Hippodrome stage but her performance is gigantean - a small powerhouse of talent in long white socks and grey school uniform.

My granddaughter Cianna said: “She is amazing, obviously she is a child but she played the character of someone so different so well.

“All the children were good even if they didn’t have any lines.

“I don’t remember the Russian mafia being in the film but there was an escapologist and acrobat.

 “I was singing along to Naughty and When I Grow Up and I hope I didn’t annoy the man sitting in front of me.

"When I got out of the theatre I couldn't stop saying the word amazing and I loved the special effects.”

The vision of Elliot Harper as headteacher Agatha Trunchbull in ‘jolly hockey sticks’ garb prancing around waving a yellow ribbon for rhythmic gymnastics is etched in my mind forever.

Matilda’s parents Mr and Mrs Wormwood played by Sebastien Torkia and Rebecca Thornhill were equally hideous. Mrs Wormwood with her language limited strictly dancing slooze Rudolpho (Matt Gillett) and Young Ones yob son Michael (Matt Gillett), who prompted the remark from my nine-year-old guest ‘I think he has special needs’, equally shone.

Cianna also confided at end of show after giving it some thought: “I think Miss Trunchbull was played by a man.”

As the sleazy secondhand car salesman in ghastly check suit (sadly not a fashion faux pas this season although green hair is so urban twee) Sebastien brought just enough Teddy Boy Elvis to the part.

His disappointment that his daughter wasn’t born with a ‘thingy’ is funny/sad and the mother’s remark about Eastern Europeans being nocturnal (she meant badgers) is funny/stupid.

All the characters had big shoes to fill as the 1996 film starring and directed by Danny DeVito was a mega hit and they put on a great attempt at the Bristol Hippodrome on Thursday night, May 9.

Miss Honey (Carly Thoms) is the whimpish class teacher and kind-hearted saviour of Matilda and librarian Mrs Phelps (Michelle Chantelle Hopewell) is her confidant of untruths.

My favourite song(s) - Revolting Children and When I Grow Up.

Matilda the Musical gives young people the chance to laugh out loud at their boggy-persons, a coming-of-age from birth to about aged eight years yarn about an unloved but lovable little girl whose cruel and crude parents should be reported to social services and banged up pronto.

Their rejection of their clever daughter is terrible but revenge is coming…clue glue, bleach and banishment. 

Children (maggots) at Crunchem Hall who get in trouble for flouting school rules are put in ‘the chokey’ a punishment cell, thrown out the window by the hammer-throwing Olympic champion Miss Trunchbull or forced to eat mountainous amounts of chocolate cake – which prompts a Violet Elizabeth Bott moment from Just William.

Classmates on press night included Bruce, Charlie Garton; Tommy, Oliver Dalby; Nigel, Alfie Sandersen; Eric, Toby Hales; Hortensia, Evie Allen; Alice, Georgia Mae Brown; best friend Lavender, Lily Van Veen and Amanda, Darcy Kelly.

The dance, costumes, timings and scenery are perfect and mood-setting – even oppressive and the themed jarred movements and echoes all added to the sinister atmosphere.

Talking of torture good luck to Year 6 children doing their SATs next week.

The show teases all the way through and you aren’t sure it is all going to end happily ever after.

This is one of the best West End shows to hit Bristol for a while and comes highly recommended for all children and those young-at-heart.

The production is designed by Rob Howell, with choreography by Peter Darling, orchestrations, additional music and musical supervision by Christopher Nightingale, lighting by Hugh Vanstone, sound by Simon Baker and the special effects and illusions are by Paul Kieve.

It plays Bristol until Saturday, June 8.

For tickets call the box office on 0844 871 3012 or book online by clicking HERE.

Carol Deacon

PHOTOS: Manuel Harlan

19-RSC Matilda The Musical UK & Ireland
7-RSC Matilda The Musical UK & Ireland T

Matilda playing Bristol Hippodrome

PREVIEW: Roald Dahl's story about Matilda is coming to the Bristol Hippodrome.

The Royal Shakespeare Company has announced its national tour of Matilda The Musical will include the city centre theatre and be accompanied by a specially devised education programme, Change My Story, for schools.

The musical's narrative centres on Matilda, a precocious five-year-old girl with psychic abilities who loves reading overcomes obstacles caused by her family and school who is rescued by her teacher.

And the RSC Matilda The Musical has partnered with Cabot Circus to offer visitors a rare opportunity to sit in Miss Trunchbull's chair, if they dare.

Designed and built by the set and costume designer for the show, Rob Howell, the iconic headmistress’ chair is positioned on Brigstowe Street in Cabot Circus from 8am on Wednesday to Tuesday, April 17-30 to delight shoppers and add to Cabot Circus’ interactive family offering.

The 1.2m wide and 3.5m high steel chair was made by nine people and took 200 hours to create.
The role of Matilda is shared by Scarlett Cecil, Olivia Juno Cleverley, Freya Scott and Sophie Woolhouse.

Miss Trunchbull is played by Elliot Harper opposite Carly Thoms as Miss Honey and Sebastien Torkia and Rebecca Thornhill as Mr and Mrs Wormwood.

The full adult cast includes Richard Astbury, Joe Atkinson, Nina Bell, Peter Bindloss, Oliver Bingham, Emily Bull, Samara Casteallo, Matthew Caputo, Matt Gillett, Michelle Chantelle Hopewell, Sam Lathwood, Steffan Lloyd-Evans, Charlie Martin, Anu Ogunmefun, Carly Thoms, Rebecca Thornhill, Sebastien Torkia, Adam Vaughan and Dawn Williams.

Winner of more than 85 international awards, including 16 for Best Musical, the Matilda The Musical tour will be in town from Tuesday to Saturday, May 7-June 11, 2019.

Matilda The Musical is written by Dennis Kelly, with music and lyrics by Tim Minchin, and direction by Matthew Warchus.

The production is designed by Rob Howell, with choreography by Peter Darling, orchestrations, additional music and musical supervision by Christopher Nightingale, lighting by Hugh Vanstone, sound by Simon Baker and the special effects and illusions are by Paul Kieve.
For the first five venues of the tour which includes Bristol Craige Els will reprise the role of Miss Trunchbull, having played her in the West End for three years between 2014 and 2017.

He will be joined by Carly Thoms as Miss Honey and Sebastien Torkia as Mr Wormwood as well as former West End cast-mate Rebecca Thornhill as Mrs Wormwood.

The title role of Matilda will be shared by Annalise Bradbury, Lara Cohen, Poppy Jones and Nicola Turner for this period.
Casting for the tour’s later dates, including venues in 2019, will be announced in due course.
In the UK and Ireland, the production will be accompanied by Change My Story, a new RSC education programme inspired by Matilda The Musical and devised in collaboration with each touring theatre partner to help build long term partnerships between school communities and theatres.

Due to popular demand, an extra matinee show has been added for Friday, May 31.
Further details by clicking HERE.

To book tickets click HERE.

trunchbull chair 1.jpg

Roald Dahl (1916-1990) was the author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The BFG and many more of the world’s best-loved children’s stories.

His first children’s story, James and the Giant Peach published in 1961, was a hit and every subsequent book became a best-seller.

Today, his stories are available in 59 languages and, by a conservative estimate, he has sold more than 250 million books. Many of these stories have also been adapted for stage and screen, including the 1971 film classic Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Wes Anderson’s acclaimed Fantastic Mr Fox, and the Royal Shakespeare Company’s multi-award winning production of Matilda The Musical.