‘Matilda the Musical’ teaches girls to release their brain power for the better

Hide the glue. Lock up your hair tonic and hair dye. Check your hat before you put it on…for the next two months, depending upon how long your kids can hold on to an idea. “Matilda the Musical,” isn’t a musical that has any haunting melodies or toe-tapping tunes, but it is a lot of fun for kids and your inner child. “Matilda the Musical” continues at the Ahmanson until.

This might not be the best musical to take your kids to for Father’s Day or if you’ve just had a tiff and it’s long enough to be too much for younger children.

That said, it’s not often that stories have a girl as the hero.  Matilda may be a child in her first year at elementary school, but she’s super smart and she doesn’t let her family dim the brightness of her brain. This musical production at the Ahmanson is best for older children since it runs long enough to have an intermission, but it’s a good chance for kids to see a smart girl saving the day.

The musical was originally staged by the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2010 and eventually moved to the West End. It won seven 2012 Olivier Awards, including Best New Musical. In 2013, the Broadway version won five Tony awards, including  Best Book of a Musical. Music and lyrics are by Tim Minchin and the book is by Dennis Kelly.

The musical is based on Roald Dahl’s 1988 book, “Matilda.” Dahl also wrote “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “The Gremlins,” and “James and the Giant Peach.” As with those tales, there’s a bit of horror and a bad adult to be dealt with, but nothing really bad happens on our way to a happy endings. “Matilda” was also adapted into a movie directed by Danny DeVito.

In the musical, Matilda (Mia Sinclair Jenness at the performance I attended) is the child of an impatient and dishonest father, Mr. Wormwood (Quinn Mattfeld). Her mother, Mrs. Wormwood (Cassie Silva) gives birth to her when Mrs. Wormwood was scheduled to be at a dancing competition with her boytoy, Rudolpho (Jaquez Andre Sims). Matilda’s father has the high-hair of a guy with an inferiority complex. Neither find time for Matilda, and her father, who had hoped for another boy, always call her a boy.

Her birth may be a miracle of life, but the miracle of her brain goes unappreciated. Her father is always involved in shady deals and her mother is busy with her dancing. Her older brother, Michael (Danny Tieger) is glued to the TV. Matilda eventually finds herself most at home in the library and instead of the librarian telling her stories, she tells the librarian, Mrs. Phelps (Ora Jones) a story about two escape artists and their child.

When Matilda finally gets to school, she far ahead of her classmates but instead of them bullying her, they rally around her. They are, after all, facing a common enemy: the evil head mistress, Miss Trunchbull (Bryce Ryness).

Despite the lack of memorable music, the show is filled with humorous physical comedy bits and fun dance numbers. Ryness as Trunchbull takes full advantage of his lack of femininity, particularly in a hilarious ribbon dance–never to be repeated at a rhythmic gymnastics competition.

The musical is fun and the fact that it celebrates intellectual power over beauty or charm, makes it worth seeing for boys and girls.

Just keep your hair dye out of reach and make sure your kids or date doesn’t get any ideas about glue and hats!

“Matilda the Musical” continues at the Ahmanson until 12 July 2015.

Tickets for “Matilda the Musical” at the Ahmanson are available at www.CenterTheatreGroup.org, by calling (213) 972-4400, and in person at the Center Theatre Group box office at the Ahmanson Theatre. Tickets start at $25 (ticket prices are subject to change). Hot Tix, at $25 each, may be purchased in advance by phone or, subject to availability, on the day of performance at the box office (no checks). Group tickets are available by calling (213) 972-7231. For the Deaf community: Information and charge, TDD (213) 680-4017. The Ahmanson Theatre is located at the Music Center, 135 N. Grand Avenue in Downtown L.A. 90012

For more information, including tour dates, cities and tickets, please visit www.matildathemusical.com/tour.


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