Matilda Wows at PPAC

I love theater. I love British Literature; from Jane Austen to JK Rowling to JR Tolkien to Roald Dahl. And then these two entities that I adore got together and formed Matilda The Musical. This show is playing at the Providence Performing Arts Center until Sunday, and you really don’t want to miss it!

Matilda The Musical is everything I would imagine Roald Dahl would want it to be. Dahl’s books contain a certain amount of magic that readers happily fall into. As a young reader, I loved his books, and I think because he never treated his audience as children who needed something to be watered down for them. That trusted unspoken confidence with readers was transferred to the stage. Dennis Kelly’s script doesn’t talk down to kids, and at times the story is downright frightening. Dahl’s tale of the little girl who is brought up by unloving and abusive parents, only to fall into a school with a headmistress of the same caliber, doesn’t sound like a children’s story, but this is. The magic of Hugh Vanstone’s Tony award-winning lighting design brings home that delightful darkness that Dahl’s stories have. Is it too scary for kids? My son is 8 and loved it; he told me it wasn’t scary. However, three years ago he might have been scared, so this may not be the show for the under-5 crowd.

The evening I saw the show, Jenna Weir was playing the title role of the show. At times she invoked a young Hermoine and was delightful the entire time. Her voice was strong, and her acting was top rate. In fact I was in awe of all the kids in this show. These kids are kept so busy onstage, it’s a good thing they’re young! The opening number, “Miracle,” was a definite highlight of the night, and when I looked back at my notes, next to “Revolting Children” I wrote two words: hell yeah. These kids rock!  I hate to even single any of them out, but I have to say that Gabriele Beredo has a moment with the audience where you can see a young comedian blossoming.

Jennifer Bowles is Miss Honey, and Miss Honey is the teacher every teacher wishes to be. We really met her during the number “Pathetic, but when she lets it all go for “My House,” you can’t help but cheer from your seat. The ending leaves you a little misty-eyed thanks to her down-to-earth portrayal of Miss Honey. Keisha Fraser’s Miss Phelps, the neighborhood librarian Matilda connects with, was simply a bundle of joy onstage.

This show has something for everyone; you don’t need to take a child to love this show. With lines like “children are maggots” and “it’s not normal for a girl to be all thinky,” the audience is thoroughly engaged through each song and scene. Don’t miss it!

 

Matilda The Musical runs until Sunday, May 21.  Tickets are $21-$88 and can be ordered by calling the box office at 401-421-2787, or online at www.ppacri.org

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

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