- Damaris Chanza
Roald Dahl's Matilda The Musical is a Fantastically Wonderful Adaption of the Book
Reinventing a classic can be daunting, but Roald Dahl's Matilda The Musical was a great interpretation of the book.
Matilda The Musical was initially released in 2011 as a Broadway show. Mathew Warchus directed, Dennis Kelly wrote the screenplay, and Tim Minchin wrote the music and lyrics adapted from Roald Dahl's novel Matilda. The film adaption was released on Netflix on Christmas Day 2022.
When I think of a film adaptation of Matilda, I think of Danny DeVito's 1996 movie starring Mara Wilson. I'm not familiar with Broadway Theatre, only having seen my first show last year, so I was completely unaware of the stage version of Matilda The Musical. I was able to experience this film without the background knowledge of the play or trailers and without the intention of reviewing it for the blog; it was purely for pleasure.
I was intrigued by how someone could turn a story about a telekinetic bookworm from a troubled home into a musical. Frankly, I don't know who I am to question the talents of an industry that turned Mean Girls and Beetle Juice into hit musicals.
Matilda The Musical instantly throws us into Roald Dahl's weirdly magical world with bright colors and a song sung by babies, doctors, and nurses. Then we're introduced to the despicable Wormwood couple. Seeing them disappointed with Matilda's gender upon birth felt a little too real with the politicized nature of womanhood, especially in today's climate.
In this adaption, the librarian takes a more significant role. Sindhu Vee plays Ms. Phelps, my favorite character in the movie. Her quirkiness, genuine concern for Matilda, and eagerness to listen to Matilda's story about the escapologist and the acrobat were some of my favorite aspects of the movie. I absolutely loved her transportable library truck; it's one of the most fabulous props I've ever seen.
Naughty was hands down the best musical sequence in the entire movie. Alisha Weir as Matilda being rebellious in ridiculous and hysterical ways while singing about not taking her parent's injustices toward her was freeing. The song has such a simple sentiment; if you don't like it, do something about it, which coming from a child, feels so simple. In adulthood, that concept feels complicated because there seems to be a never-ending list of obstacles to changing things you don't like, but Matilda said, "Nah, I'm going to fix it." Besides being catchy and funny, it makes you wonder why your childlike confidence disappeared.
The second best song has to be When I Grow Up. The children sing while riding motorcycles and flying jets. They had all these fantastical dreams of staying up all night and eating junk food all day. It made me smile to think about that naïve and simple happiness. Imagine, for a moment, finding pure pleasure in eating cookies without thinking about the health or nutritional benefits. Such joy seems unfathomable sometimes. I found it especially interesting that Miss Honey, played by Lashana Lynch, sings this song too. It's a reminder that there is always more growing up to do.
For anyone who has already seen the musical on Broadway, there are some distinct differences between the stage play and the movie. Even if there weren't any discrepancies, the film provides some fantastic visuals that I can't imagine they could accomplish as incredibly on the stage.
Remakes, sequels, and adaptions are always risks, especially in classic stories that many people are intimately familiar with. However, Matilda The Musical fulfilled everything I wished it would and more. If I were to complain about something, it would be the awkward fat suit given to Charlie Hodson-Prior's character, Bruce Bogtrotter. Although problematic, it's a minuscule complaint overshadowed by all the complimentary things that can be said. Matilda The Musical is a must-see for all theatre and Roald Dahl fans.
Stream Matilda The Musical on Netflix