“We are revolting children living in revolting times. We sing revolting songs, using revolting rhymes. We’ll be revolting children ’til our revolting’s done. And we’ll have the Trunchbull vaulting, we’re revolting!”
In this song about the children’s revolution against their inhumane headmistress, Miss Trunchbull, the children of Crunchem Hall come to life in a musical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s beloved children’s book “Matilda.”
“Matilda the Musical,” by playwright Dennis Kelly, with music and lyrics by songwriter Tim Minchin, opened in London’s Stratford-Upon-Avon in November 2010 with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and moved to the West End last October. It is official now, that the beloved story of young, powerful Matilda Wormwood will warm the hearts of American theatre-goers in early 2013 with its arrival on Broadway.
The production team came together in 2008, when director Matthew Warchus contacted Tim Minchin about creating the music. The first workshop production took place in September 2009, the second following in November. The team continued to work on the script with Jeanie O’Hare from the Royal Shakespeare Company, and Chris Nightingale, and after a final workshop in June, rehearsals started in September of 2010. Preview performances started on Nov. 9 2010 at the Courtyard Theatre in Stratford-Upon-Avon. After positive reviews, the show officially opened on Dec. 9. Performances were sold out throughout December and January, when the run ended.
After winning the Critics’ Circle Award for Best Musical, “Matilda” was slated for a West End production for the fall of 2011. After another month of previews, “Matilda The Musical” opened at the Cambridge Theatre on Nov. 24, 2011. Previous to the show’s West End premier, Minchin worked throughout the spring to create a cast recording with the original Stratford-Upon-Avon cast, which was released on Sept. 13, which is Roald Dahl Day.
Described by Ben Brantley in The New York Times, the show is a “sweet and sharp-witted work of translation, which — like its story-spinning title character — turns dark and sodden anxieties into bright and buoyant fantasies.” In comparison with Dahl’s novel, the show “stays true to the tartness of Dahl,” Brantley describes, “who reveled in the sinister and knew that children do too.”
As Celia Wren reported for The Washington Post, John Glore, associate artistic director of South Coast Repertory, a theatre in Costa Mesa, CA, discusses the rising success of theater geared toward the younger crowd. “It’s always harder to sell a children’s show when the title isn’t familiar to people,” Glore said. “Most of us in the field feel the reason it got better is that we started supporting our writers really strongly.”
Roald Dahl’s 1988 book is certainly widely-known. Who could forget the little girl with telekinetic powers who stages a revolution against the principal and other adults who do nothing but undermine her intelligence, and that of her fellow children?
Similar to many other books-made-musicals, “Matilda” has proven its popularity, slating it for what will surely be a successful run on Broadway. As recently reported by TicketNews, the 1976 Stephen King classic “Carrie” was adapted into a Broadway musical in 1988, and is currently in the beginning stages of its 2012 revival after opening on March 1. In a similar manner, works that made it from movie screen to the Broadway stage are “Shrek the Musical,” as well as Disney’s “The Lion King” and “Mary Poppins.” These are only a few on a long list of films that have found their way to Broadway.
In early 2013, the to-be-determined cast of “Matilda, the Musical” will grace the Broadway stage and those “revolting children” (and adults) will show New York that, “somewhere inside all of us is the power to change the world.”