June 10, 2024

Matilda

Kevin Dowsett, Artistic Director of Theatretrain, recently attended a captivating production of Matilda Jr. The young cast, many performing for the first time, dazzled with their enthusiasm and stage presence, especially during those powerful songs. 🌟 From Roald Dahl's book to Tim Minchin's musical, Matilda's charm continues to captivate audiences. 🎶✨

Yesterday I went to see a Theatretrain production of Matilda Jr. It was entertaining and many of the young cast were on the stage for the first time. Their enthusiasm carried us along and they seemed totally at ease on stage especially when they could hurl those loud songs at us.

Matilda has been a hit now for a long time. The book by Roald Dahl was written in 1988, and then came the 1996 film. This was later followed by Tim Minchin’s hugely successful 2010 musical which was turned into a film in 2022.

Roald Dahl was a prolific and clever writer. He knew how to capture children’s imaginations. These were his rules:

Just add chocolate.

Adults can be scary.

Bad things happen.

Revenge is sweet.

Keep a wicked sense of humour.

Pick perfect pictures.

Films are fun…but books are better!

Food is fun!

What a great starting place and what a wonderful storyteller. Then Tim Minchin added some witty lyrics and catchy songs, a recipe for success that is still running in the West End with a seemingly endless procession of talented young performers.

Then there is the Junior version of the musical – handy for young companies. 90 minutes long with no interval, a condensed plot and all the favourite moments. What’s not to like? It is always interesting to see how a company handles the throwing of Amanda Thripp by the pigtails or the eating of the Trunchbull’s cake by Bruce Bogtrotter. Apart from Matilda who has a lot to sing, there are loads of characters from the horribly self-centred Wormwoods to the lovely Miss Honey and the wicked Miss Trunchbull.

The audience I watched with clearly loved the goodies and the baddies particularly the moments of comeuppance. Parents naturally love watching their children perform and they are generous to everyone else. I think they appreciate the hard work that goes on over weeks as well as the backstage organisation of a whole cast in an unfamiliar theatre.

And there are so many themes in the story:

Empowering kids to be curious and not be afraid to be different. 

Overcoming adversity. 

Finding magic in a story and looking for ways to put it in a show. 

Looking at different leaders – Miss Honey or the Trunchbull? 

Examining justice and standing up for what is right. 

There’s so much to learn about being a nicer person and making the right choices in life.

What a great set of things for a young person to explore.

Theatretrain, a nationwide provider of weekend theatre schools for young people aged 4-18, specialises in weekly classes in acting, singing, and dancing. An emphasis is placed on learning valuable life skills such as confidence, empathy, courage, and resilience. If you know a child who loves to dance, act and sing or could do with a little confidence boost why not visit to find out what our performing arts classes can offer your child at one of our 80 locations across the UK.

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