|Date||17th March 2022|
|Society||Hereford Musical Theatre Company|
|Venue||The Tomkins Theatre, Hereford|
|Type of Production||Musical|
|Musical Director||Jenni Axtell|
|Production Assistant||Becky Purvin|
Author: Bruce Wyatt
It was my pleasure to see the Youth Group of 30+ 8-16 year olds perform Matilda Jr and my first visit to HMTC’ s ‘The Tomkins Theatre’, which was a very impressive and intimate venue. The audience, seated at tables with refreshments available, were welcomed by an open fixed well-built set based on a library setting, with stairs leading to a raised area at the rear of the stage and a number of lettered cubes to give additional opportunity for a range of heights very well used throughout the production directed by Nicky Willett.
This is not an easy show for youngsters which included no less than 9 company numbers which were sung and choreographed well. The opening number ‘Miracle’ got the show off to an excellent start.There was a strong principal line up. ‘Matilda’ played by Effie Miles had good stage presence and voice to match, forever having to correct her father that she was a girl, not a boy. Parents ‘Mr and Mrs Wormwood’ played by Ferdi Baker and Naomi Allen were suitable vindictive and unappreciative of their talented daughter, both wearing impressive wigs.
‘Matilda’ shared her love for books with the school librarian ‘Mrs Phelps’, played sympathetically by Gabby Lockyer. Many of the youngsters were acrobatic and I enjoyed the story telling, evolving around the ‘Escapologist’ and ‘Acrobat’ played nicely by Charlotte West and Alessia Rosu. But ‘Matilda’s saviour was teacher ‘Miss Honey’ played with a lovely pleasant disposition by Ruby Withers who had a good voice and sang ‘This Little Girl’ with sensitivity.
I also thought Ash Evans as the overbearing ‘Miss Trunchbull’ had great stage (and frightening) presence, for ever admonishing the kids for no reason but clearly enjoying it. Well done to Haydn Osborne-Brookes as ‘Bruce’ devouring the cake! ‘Naughty’ was a great company number to conclude Act 1.
Act 2 includes the more well-known numbers ‘When I Grow Up’ and ‘Revolting Children’ clearly enjoyed by all, and I also enjoyed ‘The Smell Of Rebellion’ (Miss Trunchbull and Kids) and ‘Quiet’, sung by ‘Matilda’ was excellent.
Two keyboards and drums were quite sufficient to support and passed my acid test of being generally almost unnoticeable, playing sensitively when needed. Costumes looked good throughout and after my tour of the stage area, appreciated the excellent manner in which the company and back stage crew moved on and off stage, given the restricted space side stage. This was a production to be proud of by all involved.