Top positive review
27 people found this helpful
Twisted and Touching...
on March 29, 2013
"Matilda" is a critically acclaimed and Olivier-award winning hit in London, and from its cast recording, it's easy to see why. In creating songs for this adaptation of Roald Dahl's children's book about a young girl neglected by her comically abusive parents, comedian-musician Tim Minchin has done a fantastic job retaining the sweet and sour elements that made Dahl's fiction ("Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," "The Witches," etc.) so indelible.
He hits the right off-kilter notes from the start in the impressive opening number," Miracle," which starts with a bunch of bratty kids singing about how wonderful they are: "My mummy says I'm a miracle/One look at my face and it's plain to see/ Ever since the day doc chopped the umbilical cord/It's been clear there's no peer for a miracle like me!" Minchin's lyrics are quick and clever throughout, and retain the black humor of Dahl's work. After Matilda is born ("My mummy says I'm a lousy little worm/My dad says I'm a bore"), she eventually summons her inner strength and a dash of telekinesis, to make a better life for herself and her sweet teacher played by Lauren Ward (who it's nice to hear on another cast recording--her performance in "Violet," from over a decade ago, still gets repeat play by me.) Aside from the comic numbers for the despicable adults, Minchin has written some genuinely poignant songs for Matilda and her teacher: "Quiet" and "My House."
While the whole cast is great, the performance that stuck with me most is by Bertie Carvel, who won an Olivier Award for his cross-dressing performance as the vile headmistress Miss Trunchbull. Nobody's played a villain quite this unique in quite this way (Stay tuned after the last track for a hilarious monologue bonus.).
I'm quite sure "Matilda" will be the best received London transplant since "Billy Elliot."