It’s great that kids know their parents are proud of them – what a boost to their self-esteem. Last night I was proud of our 6-year-old daughter. She was in a Theatretrain production of Matilda Junior. What fun. When you see them joining in with gusto with everyone else you can’t help it – your heart swells with pride to see them committing themselves so totally.
We know it’s a cracking story with its goodies (Miss Honey and Matilda) and baddies (the Trunchbull and Matilda’s parents the Wormwoods). Good triumphs at the end of course but along the way there are plenty of scenes of schoolchildren, and circus entertainers as well as great set pieces – the throwing of Amanda Thrip by the pigtails, Chokey, Bruce Bogtrotter eating his way through a huge chocolate cake and the newt in the water. These are backed up with clever and wonderful songs where the characters get to reveal what they think.
And how the cast loved telling us this tale of intelligence and stupidity, cunning and bullying.
It’s very popular at the moment due to the release of the film of the West End Show.
But as a parent, I loved the opportunities it gave the young cast a chance to grow and own that story. That stage was theirs and we were in safe hands. As a Theatretrain parent, you get to know the other children and over time you watch them in end-of-term sharings and other shows. You see the confidence emerging in them as their skills are pushed ever further. A standout performance here was Eddie. For a 13-year-old boy to take on this pantomime-dame harridan the Trunchbull, is no mean feat. She embodies the nastiness, the vindictiveness but also the insecurity of the bully. How we cheered when the schoolkids won the day – even booing him good-naturedly in the walk down at the end.
Then I think about the other things they learn along the way: becoming a team, helping each other, overcoming obstacles, keeping at it, learning words, and moves and putting their feelings into their work. I know this happens right across Theatretrain and I like to think that more and more parents get it. They get that there should be a place for the arts in their child’s education. A place to build confidence, skills, and friendship and to look at the world in a different way.
To all our performers at Theatretrain, I wish you a great show and I’m sure that many of their parents, like me, will have tears in their eyes at the end.