In Play Reviews

Roald Dahl, with his colorful stories and even more colorful language, was known for often outrageous children’s stories. (We were great fans when the children were younger!) For Lakewood Theatre‘s 67th season opener, Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical bursts onto the stage with a cast of 27, mostly children, great music, and an indelible message about GIRL POWER!

Danielle Valentine and Stephanie Heuston-Willing in Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical. Photo by Triumph Photography.

Matilda (Cora Craver/Jorja Reed-see above pictured with Andy Lindberg) is an unwanted child born to odious parents Harry (Danielle Valentine) and Zinnia (Stephanie Heuston-Willing) Wormwood. Her older brother Michael (Jackson Wells) fits the Wormwood family culture; Matilda most decidedly does not. She’s intelligent, witty, and even possesses psychokinetic powers. Spurned by her parents, she finds comfort, support, and inspiration with her first teacher, Miss Honey (Brooke Moltrum). The school’s headmistress, the bellicose Miss Trunchbull (Andy Lindberg), hates children–especially the smart ones–and is determined to make life miserable for Matilda and her peers.

Roald Dahl’s prose and poetry lend themselves to reading aloud, so his flamboyant verbiage translates well to the stage. Just the names of his characters recall Charles Dickens; situations are equally Dickensian in their large-than-life portrayals. The unfortunate Bruce Bogtrotter’s (Brock Woolworth) indigestion scene is the stuff legends are made of. Miss Trunchbull lends just the right touch of Roald Dahl creepiness. Matilda the Musical is alive with humor, satire, slapstick, and social commentary. Mostly, it’s just plain fun!

Andy Lindberg and Brooke Moltrum in Matilda the Musical. Photo by Triumph Photography

The play, with script by Dennis Kelly, music and lyrics by Tim Minchin, and expert direction by Paul Angelo, provides fertile ground for a delightful theatre experience even for younger family members. I saw the production with Cora Craver as Matilda. She’s sharp, sassy, and completely in charge of the lead role. Every child in the production stood out for their enthusiastic performances.

Special mention goes to Andrew Bray, musical director; Jorie Jones, choreographer; Sami Joan Pfeifer, scenic design; Steve Knox, producer; Berl Dana’y, costume design and properties; Peter West, lighting design; Gordon Romei, sound design’ Micah Steury, stage manager; Russell Foltz-Smith, projection artist.

Matilda the Musical runs through August 18 on the Headlee Mainstage at Lakewood Center for the Arts.






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