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Behind-The-Books Blog

A trip down memory lane with Matilda: The Musical

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

I was brought back to my childhood in a flurry of bright scrabble-shaped letters, music, singing and dancing this weekend when I saw Matilda: The Musical at the Cambridge Theatre.

Ronald Dahl has been one of my favourite authors since I could read, or perhaps even before that when my mother read to me. James and the Giant Peach, The BFG and The Witches were all popular parts of conversation and references in my house. But no book can summarize my childhood more than Matilda. I shared Matilda’s insatiable appetite for books, and so that six-year-old-me believed that I was as special as her, and the book only served to cement my love for reading and writing.

Now at the theatre, at age 22, hearing the music and watcheing Matilda dance and sing across the stage – I was six again. It a visual smorgasbord with desks that lifted from the stage floor, swings hanging from the ceiling, sparkling lights across the theatre, library walls that moved across the stage, and it was incredibly faithful to the novel.

Comedian Tim Minchin may not be considered child-friendly in his regular act, but working with Dennis Kelly, he found a wonderful way to re-tell the story with music. The lyrics are clever, filled with emotion and funny, no matter how old you are. I couldn’t help singing ‘sometimes you have to be a little bit naughty’ as I left the theatre.

The best bit is that not only is the musical bringing this book to life for us older Matilda fans, it’s also introducing children to Ronald Dahl’s books as Matilda the novel is sold at each performance. The amount of kids that were there, singing along and wanting to take the book home to read as well, was incredible. The show didn’t work as a substitute for the book (my worry about stage or screen adaptions), but, in this case at least, as an incentive to enjoy reading the story. I, for one, am now anxious to get my hands on a copy to read it all over again.

Mollie Diedrich, currently doing work experience at Allison and Busby


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